Time for Tugade to go, commuters' group says on rumored reappointment to DOTr

Commuters line up for free rides along the EDSA bus carousel station in Ortigas yesterday. Passengers opted for bus rides as the operations of the MRT-3 remain suspended until Easter Sunday.
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Another coalition of groups representing commuters and workers in the transportation sector has joined mounting calls to replace Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade amid reports that he might retain the position in the next administration.

In a statement sent to reporters, Toix Cerna, spokesperson of the commuters' advocacy group Komyut, described Tugade and the other DOTr and LTFRB officials as "deaf and insensitive" to the plight of the drivers and commuters. Cerna said DOTr leadership has lost the trust of the transport sector.

"The current leadership of the DOTr has really neglected public transportation," Cerna said in Filipino. "Although some programs were developed to address needs like assistance and service contracting, the implementation has not been smooth. The leadership has become deaf and silent and numb to the complaints of the transport sector and the riders."

Cerna said it would be best for the next administration to replace department officials who have "caused deep wounds in the lives and livelihood of the transport sector."

Cerna said the ideal transport secretary to replace Tugade should be someone who listens, is quick to address the concerns of the transport sector, and someone who understands the plight of the drivers and commuters.

This comes after transport groups made separate appeals to Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., presumptive president-elect, to replace Tugade.

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On Friday, groups who had supported the Marcos campaign protested the prospect of Tugade staying on at the department.

Transport groups and alliances want Tugade out

"They didn't just fail to resolve our problems in transportation, but they also added to them," Liga ng mga Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas national president Orlando Marquez said in Filipino at a press conference.

"We brought our concerns to Tugade but he never listened to us. In the end, we stopped reaching out because it was a waste of time to write letters and make phone calls. Nothing ever happened."

The National Public Transport Coalition also aired an appeal to Marcos to replace Tugade saying the transport sector is the most neglected sector and has seemed to be abandoned in the face of the pandemic and the continued spike in fuel prices.

The coalition signed a joint manifesto asking outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte and his successor, Marcos, “to rectify the transportation sectors’ concerns with transparency, equity, and sustainability for all stakeholders immediately.”

"The transport sector has been hit hard by the pandemic. And now we continue to be on our knees because of the high price of gasoline. In the midst of all this, the current DOTr leadership has neglected our ranks. It was as if we had been abandoned," coalition spokesperson Ariel Lim said.

The NPTC is composed of representatives from the following groups:

  • National Confederation of Tricycle and Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines
  • Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide
  • Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines
  • Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator tutol sa Phase Out 
  • Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila
  • Unified Transport Alliance of the Philippines
  • Small Bus Operators of the Philippines,
  • Philippine Bus Operators Association of the Philippines
  • Pilipino Society and Development Advocates
  • Alliance of Philippine Customs Brokers and Trucking Associations 
  • Inland Haulers and Truckers Association 
  • Haulers and Truckers Association in the Watersouth
  • Lawyers for Commuters' Safety and Protection
  • Truck Drivers Association of the Philippines
  • Motorcycle Rights Organization
  • Motorcycle Riders of the Philippines
  • Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization

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