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PISTON, MANIBELA hold 2nd day of transport strike vs. PUV modernization


Two transport groups continued with their second day of strike on Tuesday to protest the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program of the government.

Members of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) and Samahang Manibela Mananakay at Nagkaisang Terminal ng Transportasyon or MANIBELA remained at Welcome Rotonda at the boundary of Quezon City and Manila on Tuesday morning after their vigil on Monday night, according to a report by Bam Alegre on Unang Balita.

The protesters occupied the southbound lane of Quezon Avenue from Welcome Rotonda to Blumentritt Street.

The jeepney drivers and operators said their protest action is a sacrifice they are willing to undertake to be able to air their opposition to the PUV modernization program.

"Nakita natin kung gaano kainit 'yung pakikipaglaban nitong ating mga kasamahan. Sana mahal na Pangulo, 'yung hinaing po nitong aming mga kasamahan mapakinggan ninyo at hindi 'yung mga iilan lamang," MANIBELA chairman Mar Valbuena said.

(We saw how passionate our members are in fighting for their cause. We hope, Mr. President, that you would listen to the appeal of our members, and not just listen to a few.)

MANIBELA said Day 2 of their two-day transport strike will show stronger protest.

Using the roof of a traditional jeepney, one of the speakers addressed the crowd of protesters on Tuesday morning.

Commuters affected by the closure of the southbound lane of Quezon Avenue (España Boulevard) said they just allotted more time to be able to get rides to their destination.

Valbuena said on Monday there were about 8,000 jeepney drivers and operators who attended the vigil that started around 5 p.m. to protest the consolidation under the PUV Modernization Program.

Later on, Valbuena, in an interview with Allan Gatus of Super Radyo dzBB, said they will finish the program at Welcome Rotonda at 8:30 a.m.

"Dahil na rin po sa halos dalawang gabi nang pagod at puyat itong ating mga kasamahan. Dahil naghanda tayo Sunday pa at kahapon sobrang pagod talaga dahil nakipagbuno tayo sa puwersa ng gobyerno," Valbuena said.

(This is due to the fatigue and lack of sleep among our members the past two nights. We prepared for this as early as Sunday. Yesterday we were so exhausted because we also had to deal with government forces.)

 

 

 

Anti-riot members of the Quezon City Police District were seen at Welcome Rotonda on Tuesday morning as the radio interview was ongoing.

Asked if the two-day protest action resulted in the fulfillment of their objectives, Valbuena said: "Ito po 'yung napakaimportante, hindi 'yung tigil pasada talaga. Ito ay ang maiparating natin sa ating gobyerno, sa ating Pangulo 'yung ating mga hinaing, 'yung ating mga panawagan. 'Yun nga lamang, 'yung ating sulat na kahilingan sa ating Pangulo, ay hindi tayo nakarating nga lang ng Malacañang ngayon."

(This is the most important -- not the transport strike itself -- it is to convey to the government, to the President our grievances, our appeals. However, our letter addressed to the President was not given to him since we were not able to reach Malacañang.)

"Siguro kung ating Pangulo ay lalalambot ang kanyang puso sa ating mga kababayang naghihirap lalo na sa drivers at operators siguro ho matutuldukan ngayong araw na ito itong protesta," Valbuena added.

(If the heart of our president will soften toward our countrymen who are facing hardships, especially our drivers and operators, maybe these protest actions will end today.)

Protesters meanwhile have started picking up the trash that littered the area.

Before 9 a.m., the protesters ended their rally and police opened to motorists the lanes on España Boulevard previously closed due to the protest action.

Visayas

Meanwhile, in Iloilo City in Visayas, the public transportation situation was normal on Tuesday morning and no activities were planned for the day, according to a report by GMA Regional TV One Western Visayas' Zen Quilantang-Sasa on Unang Balita.

 

However, on Monday, jeepney drivers held a protest action in Iloilo City.

Drivers said they were not able to reach 15 units as required by the PUV Modernization Program for them to consolidate their franchises into a cooperative.

"Dito nagsimula sa coop-coop na ito. Ito ang sumira sa amin. Hindi lang ako, lahat kami may pinapaaral," one driver said.

(This started from this coop-coop. This destroyed us. Not just me, but all of us who are sending children to school.)

"Nangako sila na araw-araw magbibigay sila ng 500 pesos. Hanggang ngayon wala kahit singko. Magugutom ang operator at driver kapag ganiyan," another driver said.

(They promised that they will give us P500 daily. Up to now, we have not received even five centavos. Operators and drivers will go hungry if this goes on.)

Some operators asked the government that the franchises be granted to individuals, not cooperatives.

"Ang isang panawagan namin, kung mag-consolidate ang individual, ibigay sa individual ang pagkakataon na sa kanilang pangalan pa rin ang franchise," one of them said.

(One of our appeals is that if an individual will consolidate, give him the opportunity to have the franchise to still be given in his name.)

In Talisay City, Negros Occidental, hundreds of jeepney drivers and operators asked for an extension of the April 30 deadline for PUV consolidation, a part of the PUV Modernization Program.

"Itong kilos-protesta (sana) maisip ng presidente at makita niya na ganito pa karami ang mawawalan ng kabuhayan at magugutom," UNDOC PISTON chairman Rodolfo Gardoce said.

(With this protest action, hopefully the president will see that many will lose their livelihood and will go hungry.)

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Region 6 said more than 60% of public utility jeeps in Western Visayas have already undergone consolidation.

Started in 2017, the PUV Modernization Program aims to replace traditional jeepneys with vehicles that have at least a Euro 4-compliant engine to lessen pollution and replace units that were not deemed roadworthy under the standards of the Land Transportation Office.

The consolidation of individual PUV franchises in cooperatives or corporations is the initial stage of the program. This aims to pass the burden of acquiring modernized units from operators to the transport entity.

Deadline for the PUV consolidation has been set for April 30. —KG, GMA Integrated News

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