Transport groups called off a transport strike yesterday after President Arroyo issued an executive order granting their demand for the implementation of a unified ticketing system for violations of traffic rules in Metro Manila.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters were stranded yesterday morning by the strike that was spearheaded by major associations of drivers and operators of commuter buses, jeepneys and taxi cabs to protest the separate ticketing system for traffic violations implemented by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and local government units.
The transport groups were also protesting the continued increase in the prices of petroleum products.
The scheduled day-long strike was led by the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (PISTON), Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (FEJODAP), Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers of the Philippines, Makati Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association, Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila and Suburbs Drivers Association Nationwide Inc. (Pasang-Masda); Integrated Metro Bus Operators Association (IMBOA), Metro Manila Bus Operators Association, Intercity Bus Operators Association, Northeast Manila Bus Operators Group, Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP), Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila, and 1-UTAK (United Transport Koalisyon).
The strikers called off the protest action before noon after the President issued Executive Order 712 that granted the major demand of the transport groups for the implementation of a single ticketing system in Metro Manila.
Vigor Mendoza, chairman of 1-UTAK, announced that public transport groups had decided to end the “transport holiday” during a press conference at the Serye Restaurant in Quezon City which was also attended by Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Land Transportation Office chief Alberto Suansing, DOTC Undersecretary Analyn Lontoc, and other government transport officials.
Mendoza presented to the leaders of the transport groups EO 712 signed by the President yesterday.
Mrs. Arroyo directed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to implement a single ticketing system for traffic violations in Metro Manila.
The transport groups complained that the various traffic citation tickets issued separately by local governments have resulted in extortion activities by traffic enforcers and additional costs to their operations.
EO 712 also ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to advise the local government units to suspend the following: the operations of transport terminals that charge fees and require compulsory use by public utility vehicles, enforcement of rerouting schemes that violate the authorized routes as provided for in the franchises of the passenger vehicles, the issuance of new tricycle franchises while respecting those that have been issued already, any increase in the local fees and charges applicable to public transportation, and also suspend the implementation of local programs, projects and ordinances that have impact on the cost of operations of commuter vehicles without prior coordination and approval from the DOTC.
The DILG will also implement a uniform truck ban nationwide.
Local governments were also directed to curb the proliferation of too many tricycles and pedicabs nationwide.
The DOTC was also tasked to establish a National Land Transport Policy Framework to facilitate the modernization of the land transport industry through the promotion of utility services that are environment friendly.
Mendoza expressed satisfaction over the end of the strike.
“It shows that there’s nothing you cannot solve by talking and negotiating and being open to a compromise,” Mendoza said.
He said the ultimate winner here is the commuters because they can look forward to available public transport later in the day.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said the strike was generally peaceful and lasted for only five hours.
Razon expressed gratitude to the leaders of the transport groups for calling off the strike and for the peaceful protest action.
Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Regional Police Office, said the strike had paralyzed at least 80 percent of public transport in the metropolis early in the morning before the transport groups stopped the protest action and buses, jeepneys, and taxis resumed operation around noon.
Efren de Luna, chairman of PCDO-ACTO, said that while they ended the strike early, they will monitor the government’s implementation of EO 712.
“We’re giving them two to four weeks to show us that there will be implementation. If we find that they will be treating the executive order of the President as just a piece of paper, then we’ll organize another protest action,” De Luna said.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines urged the DILG to pressure the LGUs to enforce the unified ticketing system.
“We appeal to local executives to resolve this problem to avert extended protest actions on the part of the transport groups and spare commuters from further inconvenience,” TUCP said in a statement.
MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando said the strike was successful after the protesting transport groups were able to get their demands.
“They got what they wanted,” said Fernando, referring to Malacañang’s issuance of EO 712.
MMDA executive director Angelito Vergel de Dios said the areas where public transport was paralyzed included Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, Alabang in Muntinlupa, and Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan.
At the height of the strike, the queue of commuters at the Light Rail Transit station at the Bonifacio Monument reached about 500 meters from the station after jeepneys stopped plying Rizal Ave.
Vergel de Dios said the MMDA fielded 35 vehicles to give free rides to stranded commuters.
In Pasig City, passengers were stranded along Shaw Blvd., Amang Rodriguez Ave. and Ortigas Ave.
— Rainier Allan Ronda, Philippine Star with Marvin Sy, Michael Punongbayan, Perseus Echeminada, Mayen Jaymalin, Dino Balabo, Rhodina Villanueva, Jaime Laude, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Nestor Etolle, Non Alquitran