MMDA downplays transport strike

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
MMDA downplays transport strike
Two buses from Quezon City’s Libreng Sakay program are on standby yesterday at the Elliptical Circle during the first day of the three-day transport strike. An initiative of the city government, the Libreng Sakay service aims to help stranded passengers affected by the strike.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the apparent lack of public utility vehicles (PUV), particularly jeepneys, at certain periods yesterday, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) downplayed anew the transport strike launched by progressive group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide.

“Piston failed to paralyze the transportation on their first day of strike,” MMDA acting Chairman Romando Artes said.

“We think that it might be just normal Monday morning rush hour foot traffic,” Artes said during a media briefing at the MMDA headquarters in Pasig City.

Despite the pronouncement, he said the MMDA and local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila deployed vehicles that carried stranded commuters.

The agency sent out buses, e-tricycles, coasters and vans to the following routes apparently affected by the transport strike: Tindalo-Project 2-Welcome Rotonda; Philcoa-Welcome Rotonda; Sucat-Baclaran; Alabang Viaduct-San Pedro, Laguna; Muntinlupa Alabang-Zapote; Sta. Ana Hub and Delpan-Tejeros.

As of 4:44 p.m., the MMDA reported 2,645 passengers rode a total of 686 “assets,” which could have included 104 rescue vehicles used for free rides.

In Manila, vehicles of the city disaster risk reduction and management office carried 53 stranded passengers on the Guadalupe-Amatista route and 69 others on the Quezon Boulevard-Cubao route.

A vehicle of the Manila Police District (MPD) also transported 105 commuters on the Quezon Boulevard-Cubao route.

At around noon, a dozen jeepneys lined up at the designated PUV loading and unloading area in front of the Kartilya ng Katipunan Shrine near the Manila city hall and waited for their turns to pick up commuters.

The city government earlier declared that in-person classes on all levels of public schools would push through yesterday, while some colleges and universities in the city announced that they would shift to online and asynchronous classes for up to three days during the transport strike.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III visited the MMDA’s command center and checked on activities during the transport strike, using the agency’s real-time television footage.

Duterte, who took charge while President Marcos was in the United States, praised the MMDA as being “more than prepared” to address the effects of the transport strike.

She maintained her agency’s decision not to suspend classes during the transport strike.

“The general rule is that there will be no cancellation of classes during a transport strike. The only exception is if the (LGUs) will declare the cancellation of classes, but the MMDA did not recommend the cancellation of classes,” she said.

Guadiz assured Piston and other groups who would join protests against the government’s PUV modernization program that the LTFRB would be “lenient on the suspension of franchises of those who will participate,” according to the MMDA.

The MMDA also announced that the expanded number coding scheme from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. would be enforced today, despite an earlier warning that the transport strike would last until tomorrow.

The agency suspended the policy yesterday, while the number coding scheme in Makati City, which is enforced from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., remained.


Despite the MMDA’s downplaying of their action, transport groups have claimed victory as they alleged that 85 percent of major routes in Metro Manila were paralyzed on the first day of the transport strike yesterday, which they said would continue until tomorrow as initially planned.

Piston said it is ready to continue its three-day transport strike, even following the short dialogue with Guadiz on the streets.

Piston national president Mody Floranda yesterday said they are still awaiting official documents from the LTFRB or the national government that will address their concerns before they end their strike.

“Our protest action doesn’t stop today because it is not only us who will decide. The matter shall be laid down across regions. Our action will continue tomorrow (today, Nov. 21) until Nov. 22,” Floranda said following the dialogue.

Piston is again appealing to Marcos to stop the implementation of the PUV modernization program (PUVMP), which they said would phase out traditional jeepneys and single operators from plying the roads.

Piston slammed Guadiz, who they said used his appearance at their protest as a mere photo opportunity without bringing concrete solutions to their problems.

The group is demanding revocation of the Dec. 31 deadline for the consolidation as a requirement for the government’s PUVMP.

They are also calling on the government to revise the current omnibus franchising guidelines of the PUVMP while approving the operators’ renewal for franchise and provisional authority.

For Guadiz, the transport strike had no effect on public transport, especially during the morning rush.

He expressed optimism that the groups will end their strike early as the LTFRB is already working on their concerns. — Romina Cabrera, Nillicent Bautista, Neil Jayson Servallos, Sheila Crisostomo

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