Strike fails to paralyze public transport

Published by rudy Date posted on April 1, 2011

THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that Thursday’s transport caravan staged by militant groups failed to disrupt public transportation operation in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country.

According to LTFRB Chairman Nelson Laluces, although there were reports about minor paralyzation of transport service in some areas, local governments and other government agencies were able to deploy vehicles to ferry stranded passengers.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that only 39 public jeepneys, 29 Asian utility vehicles and four private vehicles took part in the transport caravan staged by the Pinag-Isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (Piston) and other militant groups.

“Their purpose might have been just to ventilate their grievances. But it seems they have failed to muster enough support. The other large transport groups did not participate,” said Tolentino.

Piston together with other militant groups like Kilusang Mayo Uno and Bagong Alayansang Makabayan, led the protest action in Metro Manila and other provinces demanding government to address the oil crisis hounding the country.

In Metro Manila, Piston conducted a transport caravan, which according to the groups is different to a transport strike, while other allied organizations staged their own demonstration in their respective areas like in Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.

MMDA traffic enforcers escorted the caravan from Quezon City Memorial Circle to Mendiola Bridge in Manila, as it made its way through Quezon Avenue to make sure that it would not hamper the flow of traffic.

Only two dispatched buses from those readied by the MMDA to cater to stranded passengers were used and dispatched over the Sucat-Baclaran route.

Tolentino monitored the movement of the transport caravan via a live video feed from a closed-circuit television camera posted near the Mendiola Bridge.

Laluces explained, “Whether it’s a caravan, holiday or strike, it’s all the same and if we see stranded passengers in the street, it means that operators failed to comply with its obligation stated on their franchise.”

Monitoring

In a separate interview, LTFRB board member Lawyer Manuel Iway said that the board would study the result of the monitoring conducted by its personnel during the staging of the nationwide protest action to determine if there were violations.

But initially, Iway said, the number of public utility vehicles (PUV) that join that transport caravan in Metro Manila was not that big to cause inconvenience to the ridding public although there were information that several passengers in Cebu and in some places in Mindanao got stranded during the morning rush hour.

He, however, noted that jeepney drivers decided not to go out because of the metal spikes scattered by unidentified individuals along the road.

“We will study the information we have gathered and determine if there are operators who committed violations,” he added.

The failure of Piston to paralyze public transportation could be attributed to the preparation laid out by different government agencies and local governments, the refusal of major transport organization to support the rally and the reminder of the LTFRB to legitimate operators who are planning to join the protest action.

LTFRB warned legitimate PUV operators of possible sanctions and even cancellation of franchise if they were proven to have violated provisions on their franchise.

On the other hand, Tolentino reminded protesters that the oil price increase is a global phenomenon wherein the Philippines is among the victims.

Tolentino pointed out that most of the transport group who decided not to join the protest knew that oil prices are dictated by international market.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police-National Capital Region Police Office (PNP-NCRPO) Director Nicanor Bartolome said they had not received reports on any incident related to the caravan and congratulated the protesters for policing their rank.

The PNP-NCRPO has deployed some 5,000 policemen all over Metro Manila yesterday to secure the area where the caravan would pass as well as the participants. –JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND MARIA NIKKA U. GARRIGA REPORTERS wITH REPORTS FROM SAMMY MARTIN AND AILYN D. GALURA, Manila Times

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