Manibela announces three-day strike from Nov. 22 to 24

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 21) — Transport group Manibela said it will hold a three-day strike beginning Nov. 22, which coincides with the last day of nationwide protest of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON).

The scheduled strike is also to protest the Dec. 31 deadline for the mandatory jeepney franchise consolidation, a component of the government's public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

“Simula bukas, ang Manibela at iba pa nating kasamahan ay sasama na sa tigil-pasada nationwide,” Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said in a press conference on Tuesday.

[Translation: Starting tomorrow, Manibela and other groups will join the nationwide transport strike.]

Valbuena said the strike centers will be set up in Novaliches, Monumento in Caloocan, Manila, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Pasig, Valenzuela, Marikina, and Project 4 in Quezon City.

He said around 200,000 PUV drivers and operators are expected to join the nationwide strike that is seen to affect 450 routes in the National Capital Region and nearly all routes in Central Luzon.

Valbuena said the protests are not meant to inconvenience commuters but for their voices to be heard.

He said PUV modernization can be achieved by rehabilitating jeepneys instead of replacing them with more expensive units that many drivers wouldn’t be able to afford.

PISTON national president Mody Floranda told CNN Philippines’ The Source that a protest march will be held on the last day of their strike. It will start off at 9 a.m. at the Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City and proceed to Mendiola in Manila.

PISTON considers the start of the three-day strike on Monday a success, claiming that 95% of Metro Manila was affected. Floranda said about 80,000 drivers and operators participated on the first day of their protest action.

Floranda said the second day of the strike began at 4 a.m., with many still expressing their willingness to join.

Number coding scheme remains

While the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) lifted the number coding scheme on Monday due to PISTON’s strike, it said it will no longer do the same thing in the coming days despite Manibela’s plan to hold its own protest action.

The agency, however, said it will continue to dispatch vehicles to help stranded commuters until Friday.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board also committed to ensure the public will get free rides during the new transport strike.

According to the MMDA, PISTON’s first day of protest had a minimal impact as authorities were also able to adequately prepare augmentation.

MMDA chairman Don Artes said in a separate interview that 686 vehicles were on standby on Monday, but only less than 80 were deployed to service stranded passengers. He said this was done so as not to affect the income of drivers who chose not to join the protest.

Artes said the MMDA has recorded only two protest sites so far on the second day of the strike, compared to 12 on Monday.

He assured the public the government is ready to provide assistance to minimize the impact of the transport strike to the riding public.