Transport groups end nationwide strike after dialogue with Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) Jeepneys and UV express units will return to their usual routes on Wednesday after transport groups Manibela and PISTON (Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide) announced they are ending their nationwide strike late Tuesday night.

Manibela chairperson Mar Valbuena told CNN Philippines that Malacañang has agreed to their request to scrap the mandatory phase out of traditional jeepneys. The Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program, however, will proceed.

The announcement comes after a private meeting was held by Valbuena, PISTON president Mody Floranda, and Undersecretary Roy Cervantes.

"Panghahawakan namin ang pahayag ng ating mahal na Pangulo Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. na bukas ang administrasyon sa pagaaral at pagaanalisa ng implementasyon ng PUV Modernization Program upang mapanatili ang kabuhayan ng ating PUV drivers at operators," Valuena said.

[Translation: We're holding President Ferdinand 'Bongong' Marcos Jr. to his word that his administration is open to studying and analyzing the implementation of the PUV Modernization Program so that the livelihood of our PUV drivers and operators will be maintained.]

According to the Palace statement, Marcos asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to use the consolidation’s extended deadline till Dec. 31 to study provisions under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (Department Order No. 2017-011).

“Ito ay upang siguruhin na naisaalang-alang ang bawat aspeto ng implementasyon ng programa, kabilang ang pagdinig sa mga hinaing ng ating mga driver at operator,” the statement said.

[Translation: This is to ensure that all aspects of implementing the program are considered, including the concerns of our drivers and operators.]

The chief executive’s directives also include asking the agencies to conduct wide and extensive consultations with drivers, operators, and commuters in regard to implementing the PUVMP.

However, another transport strike may happen if the dialogues to be conducted in the following weeks fail, Valbuena told CNN Philippines’ New Day on Wednesday morning.

In a separate statement, LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III welcomed the development. He said it is an opportunity for all involved parties to “help each other come up with an effective public transportation modernization program that is responsive and inclusive not only of their needs but also that of the commuting public.”

He also assured transport groups that the LTFRB remains open to having dialogues with them to further improve the implementation of the PUV Modernization Program and to help drivers and operators throughout the process.

Manibela also apologized to all the commuters inconvenienced by the halted transportation protest and thanked them for their patience.

Manibela and PISTON said they will be releasing a joint statement on the details of the meeting.