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Cebu News

No Cebu strike

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Members of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON)-Cebu are not joining their counterpart in Manila in staging a nationwide transport strike starting today.

 “Di mi moapil sa transport strike, mag protest rally ra mi sa mga major thoroughfares in Cebu City unya mag protest rally sad mi sa regional office sa LTFRB-7,” PISTON-Cebu chairperson Greg Perez told The Freeman yesterday.

Even the Federation of Cebu Transport Cooperative assured its members non-participation in the transport strike, which PISTON-Manila is staging to protest the non-extension of the April 30 deadline for public transportation operators to have their franchises consolidated, as part of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

The Cebu City Government, however, is not taking any chances, with Atty. Kent Francesco Jonggoy, Road Management Authority (formerly the Cebu City Transportation Office) assistant head, telling The Freeman yesterday that buses to ferry stranded passengers would be made ready.

“We have a number of city green buses ready to be deployed once the need arises,” he said.

“Rest assured that your Road Managers are here to provide road safety and ensure road accessibility,” he added.

Jongoy, though, noted that previous nationwide transport strikes have not made an impact in the city.

All the more that it would not now, he said, because the majority of the City’s transport sector already complied with the PUVMP’s consolidation mandate, based on the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board-7’s data.

“With that number, and with their assurance, it is safe to say that like other previously held strikes, the city will not be affected (by today’s transport strike),” Jongoy said.

Transport groups PISTON and MANIBELA have earlier announced a two-day transport strike beginning today.

The group earlier said, they are not against PUV modernization itself but the regulations stipulated under the PUVMP.

Yesterday, Perez said that around 100 of their 500 jeepney driver-members are joining the protest rally.  He assured that they are not aiming at all for transport paralysis.

Jongoy said they hoped that the driver protestors would not obstruct thoroughfares, hampering the ease of access of commuters, motorists, and pedestrians.

For its part, the Federation of Cebu Transport Cooperatives (FCTC) expressed that it will not participate in any transport strike.

“We, the Federation of Cebu Transport Cooperatives, would like to officially announce that we are not participating in any transport strike that may be organized in the near future”, says its chairperson Ellen Maghanoy.

She said FCTC “believes in constructive dialogue and peaceful resolution of issues affecting the transport sector.”

“We are committed to providing reliable and safe transportation services to the people of Cebu and upholding the interests of both our members and the commuting public” she added.

Earlier, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairperson Teofilo Guadiz, III said that they will adhere to President “Bongbong” Marcos's directive to extend the consolidation of public utility vehicles (PUVs) until April 30, 2024.

He said public utility vehicles, totaling 190,000 units and comprising UV Express vans, Public Utility Jeepneys, mini-buses, and buses, have availed of the franchise consolidation.

LTFRB had said last mid-January that UV Express was already at 82 percent consolidation; jeepneys, 75 percent; buses, 86 percent; and mini-buses, 45 percent.

The government started to carry out the modernization program in 2017 and has so far established 1,728 cooperatives and corporations with 262,344 members.

It has been implementing the PUVMP to address both the aggravating transport-related problems and the future transportation demand of the country.

“The program aims to fundamentally transform the public transport system in the country making both commuting and public transportation operations more dignified, humane, and on par with global standards,” LTFRB had said.

PUVMP “also seeks to provide the Filipino commuter a comfortable ride by providing a safer, more efficient, reliable, convenient, affordable, climate-friendly, and environmentally sustainable transportation system in the country.”

Meanwhile, in a separate statement posted on her Facebook page, Senator Imee Marcos said that the national government must decisively implement, without further delay, concrete solutions to pending issues hounding the PUVMP.

“Malawakang problema ito... yung mga concern ng ating iba't ibang sektor ay hindi pa naa-address nang kumpleto. Nananawagan pa rin tayo ng malawakang konsultasyon sa mga owners, drivers, pati commuters, habal-habal, pati yung sumasakay na mga estudyante," she said in a radio (DWIZ) interview Saturday.

"Ang transportasyon ay parang dugo, sirkulasyon ng bayan... yan talaga ang umiikot at nagpapairal ng negosyo, naghahatid ng estudyante, nagdadala ng may sakit sa ospital. Papaano tayo kikilos kapag wala ang ating mga driver?" she added.

The senator said “an immediate, comprehensive consultation process with all stakeholders is key to solving festering problems in the stalled modernization push, most importantly, the inability of PUV operators and drivers to afford modern units.”

She further stated that “modernizing the transport sector must not come at the expense of drivers whose only means of livelihood is driving their traditional jeepneys, and the riding public-both trying to make ends meet amid rising inflation and high cost of living.”

The senator said merely extending the April 30, 2024 franchise consolidation deadline will not address the issues the drivers are protesting about.

“May palugit o wala, hindi rin natin mapipilit yung ating mga driver kapag hindi pa naisasaayos ang pagbili ng sasakyan; hindi pa malaman kung sino ang sasagot kapag hindi nakapagbayad ng utang. Lahat ito ay napakaimportante,” she said.

“Saan naman kukuha ng P2.4 milyon (cost of modern jeepney) kada isa? Ganundin ang problema ng kooperatiba, sinasabi na lahat ay sumali sa transport coop per hanggang ngayon alam natin na maraming dumadaing na dati, sila ang may-ari, aba'y magiging empleyado na lamang sila ng kooperatiba,” she added.

Jeepney operators who fail to meet the consolidation deadline will lose their franchises and must cease from having their units ply their routes.

The senator lamented that this further puts more strain to the “already problematic transport situation.” (CEBU NEWS)

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