Malacañang asks Piston to reconsider strike

Published by rudy Date posted on March 30, 2011

MALACAÑANG on Tuesday warned transport groups of their planned nationwide protest on Thursday, asking them to reconsider their decision to go on strike.

Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) would consider the strike as “illegal” if it would paralyze the transport system in any part of Metro Manila.

“We want to make sure that the riding public will not be prejudice and if they are so prejudiced, we will look at it, consider that [the transport strike] as an illegal strike,” he said.

Lacierda said that the agency would not hesitate to issue summons to operators of public vehicles if they decide to join the nationwide transport strike on Thursday.

“So we’d like to give them fair warning here and also a request from them to reconsider their decision to go on strike,” he said.

The spokesman said that the government was now preparing for the planned strike by the transport groups. He also asked the Pinag-Isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operaytors Nationwide (Piston) to be “sober” in its decision to go on strike.

“Again we would ask the Piston to rethink their position on going on a strike considering that the problem on the oil price increase is beyond our control,” he said.

He said that the government is now trying to address the concerns of the transport industry. “We’d like to ask the transport groups to reconsider and think it twice before going on strike,” he said.

“Let’s not be part of the problem, let’s be part of the solution,” he added.

He said that LTFRB Chairman Nelson Laluces would be meeting with other transport groups that have yet taken their stand whether to join the nationwide transport protest on Thursday.

Earlier, lawyer Manuel Iway, LTFRB board member said that the agency has the right to cancel legitimate public utility jeepney operators franchise if they fail to comply with their obligations of serving the commuting public at all times.

He, however, made it clear that he is not stopping them to practice their constitutional right to express or assemble peacefully as long as they will not use their units in the rally or seize their operation that day.

Contingency measures

Meanwhile, Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that they had prepared contingency measures—including dispatching more than 60 vehicles to assist stranded passengers if a transport paralysis should occur—as they do not want a repeat of the November strike by bus operators where more than 8,000 commuters were stranded in different parts across the Metro Manila.

“We will provide all the necessary services and manpower to make sure that the commuting public will not be inconvenienced by the protest action,” Tolentino said during the inter-agency meeting to discuss the anticipated transport strike.

Among those present during the meeting were Chief Supt. Nicanor Bartolome of the Philippine National Police—National Capital Region Police Office (PNP-NCRPO), Dante Lantin of the Land Transportation Office, Col. Rene Santos of the Armed Forces of the Philippines National Capital Region Command, lawyer Manuel Iway of the LTFRB and local government officials from the cities of Manila, Mandaluyong, Pasay and Quezon.

The Piston said that the protest caravan would begin at 10 a.m. from the Quezon City Memorial Circle (QCMC) to Welcome Rotunda via Quezon Avenue.

A program will be conducted at Welcome Rotunda by 11 a.m. before heading to Mendiola for a longer set of activities.

Alternative routes

Tolentino called on motorists to deviate from main roads as the caravan is expected to result to heavy traffic.

He recommended the following alternative routes to and from the said areas that could be used by the public: West bound, from QCMC right to North Avenue, straight to Edsa, take U-turn slot at SM North EDSA, right to West Avenue, right to del Monte Street, left to Araneta Avenue, then right to Ma. Clara Street, straight to Andalucia Street, to destination.

East bound, from Recto straight to Sergio Loyola Street, straight to Matimyas, right to E. Rodriguez Avenue, left to Banawe or straight to Araneta Avenue then straight to Edsa, to destination.

Traffic enforcers will also be in position as early as 4 a.m. to handle traffic particularly along routes the caravan will take.

Bartolome said that the PNP-NCRPO would station some 5,000 policemen to secure and patrol the affected areas along with vehicles and police buses to transport passengers.

They will also assist the MMDA in terms of traffic management and ensuring that the caravan does not hold threat to the peace and order of the streets on Thursday.

The transport group has earlier disclosed that about 200 public transport jeepneys are expected to take part on the protest caravan.

Besides Piston, other militant groups like Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakpawis party-list will also be joining the protest action to show the Aquino Administration their discontent on the government’s action to address the oil price problem.

They believe that the oil cartel is taking advantage of the political crisis in the Middle East to implement extreme profiteering schemes the burden that ordinary Filipino.

“We despise the monopoly control of the greedy oil cartel and the Aquino government’s connivance with it. The Filipino workers and people have no other option than to fight the oil cartel,” said George San Mateo, Piston secretary general. –CRIS G. ODRONIA AND MARIA NIKKA U. GARRIGA REPORTERS with report from JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, Manila Times

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