More than 100,000 public utility vehicles (PUV) are set to participate in a weeklong transport strike to express opposition to the government's PUV Modernization Program.
According to a Tuesday report on GTV's Balitanghali, Manibela transport group Chairman Mar Valbuena rejected Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista's call for a dialogue to head off the weeklong strike.
“Wala na munang diyalogo, I will stand on my ground. Tuloy na lang namin ito, kung ganyang nayayabangan na lang tayo. Subukan po natin sa Lunes, subukan po natin ng isang lnggo magkakaalaman po tayo,” he said.
(Let's not have a dialogue. I will stand my ground. If all we are going to do is puff up our chests, we'll just go ahead with the strike. Let's try it on Monday, let's try it for a week and see what happens.)
The transport strike will start on March 6 at 7 a.m. and would continue until March 12, 2023.
Over 100,000 PUVs in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Bicol Region, and Cagayan De Oro were expected to participate in the strike.
Given that over 200,000 commuters in Metro Manila would be affected by the action, the transportation group asked the DOTR and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to withdraw the modernization memorandum circular.
Modernization program to stay
Amid the planned strike, Bautista maintained the program is needed.
"'Yung pagbasura ng modernization program natin ay siguro ay hindi naman tama. Kailangan imodernize natin 'yung ating public utility vehicles... ang tawag ko nga diyan 'yung CASA sa amin sa transport sector, CASA is very important no? CASA means na convenient, accessible, safe and secure, and affordable," Bautista said.
(Scrapping the modernization program is not right. We need to modernize public utility vehicles. I call that as CASA in the transport sector, CASA is very important, it means convenient, accessible, safe and secure, and affordable.)
"'Yan ang laging pinag-iisipan namin sa transport sector and kung hindi mamomodernize yung PUVs, hindi natin maiimplement 'yung CASA program ng Department of Transportation," he added.
(That's what we always think in the transport sector and if we don't implement the PUV modernization, we cannot enforce the CASA program of the Department of Transportation.)
Meanwhile, National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection (NCCSP) Chairperson Elvira Medina said the transport strike would be a major nuisance, especially to workers.
“Sa amin po ang mawawalan ng masasakyan ay mga nagta-trabaho, alam po natin na we are the ones that push the economy of this country sapagkat kami po ang naglalabas, nagma-manufacture ng mga goods ang services na atin pong pinanggagalingan ng budget ng ating bayan,” said Medina.
(People who work will not be able to commute. We all know that we are the ones that push the economy of this country because we put out, manufacture the goods and provide the services that create wealth for the country.)
She also warned that the strike might affect the public's access to health care and students attending face-to-face classes.
“Nanawagan po kami sa aming mga members na magkuha ng mga pictures na hindi paparada sapagkat yan po ay against the Constitution and against LTFRB law,” Medina added.
(We are calling on our members to take pictures of PUVs that don't pick up passengers because that is a violation of the Constitution and against the LTFRB law.)
Local government units in Metro Manila, meanwhile, were working together to find a contingency plan for the weeklong strike. — With Anna Felicia Bajo/DVM, GMA Integrated News