The planned week-long transport strike of some groups to oppose the government's PUV Modernization Program pushed through on Monday.
At the Monumento Circle in Caloocan City, members of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) gathered early for a program which will be followed by their tigil-pasada protest action, according to a report by Mark Makalalad on Super Radyo dzBB.
PISTON national president Mody Floranda told Super Radyo dzBB they are conducting the strike to uphold the rights and livelihood of their countrymen.
"Ito ay para sa karapatan at kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan," he said.
To assist commuters, local government units (LGU) in the National Capital Region (NCR) began offering "libreng sakay" or free rides on Monday morning.
The Manila city government deployed more than 300 vehicles from the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau, Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, and Manila Police District, according to the Manila Public Information Office.
Among the vehicles it deployed are more than 280 e-trikes for secondary roads and 32 buses, pick-up and trucks for major thoroughfares.
The Manila LGU said its Oplan Libreng Sakay will operate from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the following routes:
- Vito Cruz Taft Ave - Quezon Blvd.
- Espana Blvd. - Welcome Rotonda
- Abad Santos Ave. - R. Papa Rizal Ave.
- UN Taft Ave. - R. Papa Rizal Ave.
- Recto Ave. - SM Sta. Mesa
- UN Taft Ave. - P. Ocampo St.
- Monumento Rizal Ave. - Divisoria
- Buendia Taft Ave. - Divisoria
- Buendia Taft Ave. - Monumento Rizal Ave.
- Buendia Taft Ave. - Welcome Rotonda
The Pasig City LGU meanwhile announced it will offer Libreng Sakay on five routes, as follows:
- Pasig Mega Market to Shaw Boulevard (Vice Versa)
- Pasig Mega Market to Ligaya via Dr. Sixto Antonio Ave. (Vice Versa)
- Pasig Mega Market to Kalawaan to San Joaquin to Pasig Mega Market (Loop)
- Pasig Mega Market to Ligaya via C. Raymundo Ave. (Vice Versa)
- Pasig Mega Market to Dr. Sixto Antonio Ave. to Rosario to C. Raymundo Ave. to Pasig Mega Market (Loop)
Its free rides will operate from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. from March 6 to 12.
The Quezon City LGU on the other hand said its Q City Buses with free Wi-Fi onboard service eight routes:
- QC Hall to Cubao
- QC Hall to Litex / IBP Road
- Welcome Rotonda to Aurora Katipunan
- QC Hall to General Luis
- QC Hall to Mindanao Ave. via Visayas Ave.
- QC Hall to Gilmore
- QC Hall to C5 / Ortigas Ave. Ext.
- QC Hall to Muñoz
It posted the bus schedules on its Facebook page.
Muntinlupa City LGU also announced it has already deployed service vehicles for Libreng Sakay as early as 5 a.m. on Monday.
The LGU said the Libreng Sakay will be from March 6 to 12 from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the following routes:
- RMT to Alabang Viaduct and vice versa (National Road)
- Alabang Viaduct to Sucat and vice versa (East Service Road)
- South Station to Sucat and vice versa (West Service Road)
- South Station to Buencamino and vice versa (Alabang-Zapote Road)
- Biazon Road (Southville III)
- Sucat to Poblacion and vice versa (Baybayin)
Valenzuela City said its Libreng Sakay vehicles were already deployed to aid commuters on Monday.
In Parañaque City, more than 60 vehicles were deployed by the LGU to give free rides to commuters. These include buses, coasters, and other government vehicles.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) meanwhile earlier said it will deploy some 25 vehicles in areas where commuters will be affected by the transport strike.
It also announced the suspension of the expanded number coding scheme for Monday.
Meanwhile, the Angeles City government said it will likewise offer free rides throughout the city from 5 a.m. to 12 midnight on five routes amid the transport strike: along Cutud-Sapang Maisac boundary; Balibago-Dau boundary; Cutcut-Porac boundary; Sto. Domingo-San Fernando boundary; and Mining-Malino boundary.
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) also allocated an additional bus for the transport strike under its Libreng Sakay program, which will be dispatched in Valenzuela City.
Aside from this, the OVP has two buses initially deployed in the National Capital Region, and one each in Davao, Bacolod, and Cebu.
More than 100,000 public utility vehicles (PUVs) were expected to participate in the week-long transport strike to express opposition to the government's PUV Modernization Program.
This was after Manibela transport group chairman Mar Valbuena rejected Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista's call for a dialogue to head off the week-long strike.
The transport strike will start on March 6 at 7 a.m. and would continue until March 12, 2023.
Several transport groups however decided not to participate in the week-long transport holiday being organized by their colleagues.
Among the groups which will continue servicing commuters are Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Pasang Masda and Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP).
In anticipation of the March 6 to 12 transport strike, the Manila International Airport Authority urged all air passengers to give ample time to be at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for the usual three hours before flight departure time, the Manila International Airport Authority said in Sunday statement.
Earlier, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) set a June 30 deadline for PUVs to shift to modern jeepneys, but has since extended this to December 31, 2023, in deference of a Senate resolution and the request of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista.
The PUV modernization program started in 2017, aiming to replace jeepneys with vehicles that have at least a Euro 4-compliant engine to lessen pollution, but drivers and operators complained about the costs which could hit over P2 million.
Transport officials have said that traditional jeepneys can still operate beyond the set deadline, provided that they join transport cooperatives to prevent “on-street competition” among drivers and operators. —KG, GMA Integrated News