PBBM thanks operators for ending transport strike

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MANILA — President Marcos on Wednesday welcomed the decision of some transport groups to end what was supposed to be a weeklong strike as he vowed to ensure that transport workers will not lose their jobs because of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

In an interview with reporters in Quezon City, Marcos reiterated the need to review the program requiring transport workers and operators to replace their traditional jeepney units so that it won’t pose an additional burden to them.

“Of course it is important to ensure that their vehicles are safe, and if we enter the era of electric vehicles, we should do it gradually,” he said.

“But the problem they mentioned is that they may not be able to borrow money to buy a new vehicle. That’s what we are looking at right now to ensure that no one will lose his job just because he was not able to buy an electric vehicle,” he added.

For now, the government is ensuring that PUVs are safe for commuters, according to the President.

The government has adjusted the deadline for the modernization of PUVs from June 30 to Dec. 31 this year.

“I think that is enough time for us to fix the system of inspecting and replacing the jeepneys of our transport workers,” Marcos said.

The Chief Executive previously said the Philippines still lacks the infrastructure to shift to electric vehicles, noting that renewable energy only constitutes about 30 percent of the country’s power source.

He thanked the transport groups for cutting short their strike, which was supposed to last until March 12.

“Well, I’m glad… I thank them… They have made their point very clearly that we need to study it thoroughly,” he said.

Meeting with leaders

Presidential Communications Office (PCO) chief Cheloy Garafil said Palace officials led by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin met with leaders of transport groups last Tuesday to discuss their concerns.

“We had an agreement that the government of President Bongbong Marcos would listen to their issues… Their problem, according to them, is it seemed that the lines of communication were cut and there were speculations, so they were confused, so they staged a strike,” Garafil told Teleradyo yesterday.

“But we assured them that the government of President Marcos would continue to listen to their concerns,” she added.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will oversee the discussions, but transport groups were given assurance that they can communicate directly with Bersamin if they have additional questions, according to Garafil.

In a video released by the PCO, transport group Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena apologized to commuters affected by the strike.

Valbuena said Manibela and Piston have decided to end the transport strike to start talks on the PUV modernization program.

“We will be counting on the statement of President Bongbong Marcos that his administration is open to studying and revising the PUV modernization program to preserve the livelihood of PUV drivers and operators,” he said in Filipino.

The transport group leader clarified that transport groups are not against the program, but the government should ensure that it is humane and reasonable.

Also in the video was Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) national president Mody Floranda.

Garafil said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Tigil Pasada was instrumental in averting the further escalation of the disturbance in Metro Manila and other national urban centers.

She added that the task force – members of which include the Office of the Executive Secretary, DOTr, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Department of the Interior and Local Government – had put in place contingency measures to mitigate the effect of the strike.

“The contingency measure included the deployment of augmentation vehicles to transport stranded passengers during the first day of the planned weeklong transport disturbance,” she said in a statement.

LTFRB lauds end of strike

The LTFRB lauded the groups’ decision to halt the transport strike and said this would be for the benefit of commuters.

LTFRB Chairperson Teofilo Guadiz said they would sit down with transport leaders on how to improve the provisions of Department Order 2017-011 or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) to be more responsive to and inclusive of the needs of drivers and operators.

“My office at the LTFRB, with the help of the DOTr, will be kept open, where we can discuss thoroughly how we can improve the PUVMP (public utility vehicle modernization program) and how we, our drivers and operators, can comply,” he added.

Floranda lauded the planned review of the OFG that will be done in consultation with all sectors.

He said the government would now involve transport workers as part of the negotiations in the OFG review, which, according to him, was not done when the guidelines were drafted in 2017 that led to the inclusion of provisions that could phase out traditional jeepneys.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.