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Friday, May 31, 2024

Transport strike fails to paralyze Metro

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The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported that the first day of the two-day transport strike in the National Capital Region (NCR) had minimal impact on public transportation. 

MMDA chairman Don Artes stated that no stranded passengers were reported or monitored as of 9 a.m. Monday in their Makati City command center, which receives road-related reports and calls.

As of press time, no disruptions were also reported on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).

Artes expressed readiness for potential future transport strikes due to the upcoming April 30 deadline for consolidating public utility jeepneys. 

He also urged protesters not to harass fellow drivers who continue to work, stating that they should not stop those who want to earn a living for their families. 

The government reactivated the Inter-Agency Task Force Monitoring Team led by  MMDA General Manager Procopio Lipana, Assistant General Manager for Operations Asec. David Angelo Vargas, and Traffic Discipline Office Director for Enforcement Victor Nuñez focused to monitor and act depending on the situation of the streets.

The groups Malayang Alyansa ng Bus Employees at Laborers (Manibela) and Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) staged the strikes in protest against the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program and Consolidation.

At least 362 rescue vehicle units from the MMDA, various agencies, and local government units are on standby for passengers who will be affected by the transport strike. Traffic enforcers were assigned to assist the traffic flow and manage the crowd control during the protest.

Artes stated that deploying “Libreng Sakay” vehicles to areas not affected will negatively impact jeepney drivers who are not participating in the strike.

The MMDA also offered Pasig River Ferry Service as an alternative transportation in Metro Manila during the strike.

Metro Manila police director Maj. Gen. Jose Melencio Nartatez Jr. said he deployed his men to ensure peace and order situation. He said a total of 6,638 police personnel were dispatched to assist the public during the rally. 

He said a Civil Disturbance Management Team was activated to secure the public and the protesters, while other police officers were also seen manning terminals, commercial areas, and border control checkpoints. 

The National Capital Region Police Office prepared a total of 205 police vehicles composed of mobile cars, trucks, and buses for the “Libreng Sakay” for the people  affected during the protest.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday meanwhile downplayed the first day of the transport strike staged by Manibela and Piston, saying public transport was normal.

LTFRB chief Teofilo Guadiz III said the groups’ transportation strike failed to paralyze the transportation situation.

“If the basis today is your routine traffic, the traffic will be continuous, the passengers will be boarding continuously, there will be no long queues,” he said in a statement.

Rescue buses were prepositioned in case of a shortage of vehicles catering to passengers in key areas in Metro Manila due to the transport strike.

Government monitoring showed there was no need to deploy rescue buses, Guadiz said.

“We have what are called rescue buses in partnership with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Department of Transportation that are ready in areas that may be short of public transportation. But as of now, we don’t see anyone in need, because when we toured the key areas in Metro Manila, public transportation was enough,” he added.

Nevertheless, concerned government agencies are keeping an eye on possible accidents that may occur that would required the need to deploy the rescue buses.

“But, what we are watching for is that it is possible for those who disagree with the government program to threaten, throw spikes or intimidate those who do not want to participate in government programs,” he said.

“It is possible that these rescue buses will be used, later on when there is an attempt to threaten those who are striking now and those buses or those jeeps will be discouraged from traveling because of this intimidation as well. That’s where the rescue buses will come in and the Philippine National Police will help us to maintain the peace and order in the area,” he noted.   

“What I’m watching this afternoon (Monday) is the threat of those in Piston and then Manibela that they won’t take your jeepney down when you go home, these people who entered the governments and the various areas to enter the areas you need work,” he further said.

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