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PISTON, MANIBELA to stage transport strike on Dec. 18-29

Transport groups PISTON and MANIBELA on Friday announced that they would launch another nationwide strike from Dec. 18 to 29 in protest of the government's deadline to consolidate public utility vehicle (PUV) operators, Super Radyo dzBB reported on X (formerly Twitter).

The statement comes on the second day of a two-day transport strike, and with traffic in Metro Manila and nearby areas expected to worsen amid the Christmas holiday rush.

"Itong araw na ito, simula pa lang ng tigil-pasada. Sa susunod na linggo, ang PISTON at MANIBELA, ay magtutuloy-tuloy sa tigil-pasada, isang linggo hanggang Pasko, o hanggang matapos itong taon," MANIBELA president Mar Valbuena told reporters.

(Today is just the start of the transport strike. Next week, PISTON and MANIBELA will continue to hold transport strikes, one week until Christmas, or until the end of the year.)

"Baka madugtungan pa ito," Valbuena said.

(The duration of transport strike might be extended.)

PISTON and MANIBELA are up in arms over the December 31 deadline for PUV consolidation, saying this would result in the loss of livelihoods for jeepney operators and drivers who are not ready for the government's transport modernization program.

According to a Balitanghali report by Maki Pulido on Friday, protesters camped outside the office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Quezon City before staging the protest caravan to Mendiola.

As of 3:45 p.m. Friday, jeepney drivers and operators were continuing with their protest action along Mendiola Street in Manila, Super Radyo dzBB's Luisito Santos reported.

Last Thursday, LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III and Spokesperson Celine Pialago had a two-hour discussion with PISTON president Mody Floranda to discuss concerns with regard to the government's requirements and the deadline for the PUV consolidation.

Consolidation requirements were reduced to Official Receipt/Certificate of Registration (OR/CR) and a petition. It was also agreed that a cooperative will now have a minimum of 10 members and up to 3 cooperatives will be allowed to ply a single route. Previous fines will also be waived.

Moreover, modernized jeeps shall no longer be mandatory as long as rehabilitated traditional jeepneys under a cooperative pass roadworthiness inspections.

Floranda, however, said the protest would still push through, noting that key points from their discussion need to be released as part of official government policy.

"Bagamat sinasabi ng LTFRB na di namin kailangang bumili ng mamahaling unit, sabi namin maglabas kayo ng [Executive Order] na patunay niyan."

(Even if LTFRB said that we’re not required to buy expensive units, we told the agency an Executive Order should be released to prove it.) — Sherilyn Untalan, Jiselle Anne Casucian/ VDV, GMA Integrated News