MMDA on Day 1 of transport strike: Just a normal Monday morning rush

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — Public transportation has not been paralyzed as of Monday morning, the start of a three-day strike by jeepney drivers and operators, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said.

The strikers are protesting the Dec. 31 deadline for franchise consolidation under the government's public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

"I can confidently say na hindi na paralisa ang pampublikong transportasyon ngayong umaga," MMDA Acting Chairman Don Artes told reporters. "Baka nga po normal Monday morning rush hour foot traffic lamang ito."

[Translation: I can confidently say that public transportation has not been paralyzed. Maybe, this is just a normal Monday morning rush hour foot traffic.]

Of the 686 vehicles on standby to give free rides, Artes said 66 were dispatched to areas needing more transportation.

However, in Pasig City, some commuters opted to walk or book rides to their destinations as there were no jeepneys.

No choice ako, nagbu-book na lang ako ng Angkas o Joyride pag nagmamadali talaga,” commuter Patricia Armas told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: I have no choice, I just book Angkas or Joyride if I’m in a hurry.]

Fe Cruz, another commuter, said there should be a dialogue between jeepney drivers and operators and the government as commuters are affected by the transportation strike.


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"Ayaw namin maipon kaya immediately, kapag 20 to 30 persons na sa kalsada ang nag-aabang ng masasakyan, agad na kami nag de-deploy ng vehicles," Artes said.

[Translation: We don't want a certain area to be crowded, so when we see 20 to 30 persons gathered in the streets waiting for transportation, we immediately deploy vehicles.]

The Philippine National Police logged 550 protesters so far, while 12 rally areas were identified, Artes said.

Affected areas include Metro Manila, Camarines Sur, Laguna, Bacolod, Iloilo and Naga and Legazpi cities in Bicol.

Protesters feared that with the jeepney modernization project, the livelihood of poor jeepney drivers and operators will be at stake.

Ang franchise consolidation ay pagbawi at pagmasaker sa mga indibidwal na prangkisa at pagpasa nito sa mga malalaking transport corporation na sila lang may kapasidad na magbayad at sumunod sa mga pakana ng gobyerno,” strike leader Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) said in a statement.

[Translation: Franchise consolidation is the revocation and massacre of individual franchises and their transfer to large transport corporations that are the only ones who have the capacity to pay and comply with the government’s schemes.]

Strikers said they are willing to form a cooperative if they are allowed to keep the individual franchise of their jeepney.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Teofilo Guadiz explained that the concept of forming a cooperative is general ownership.

Pero meron ho tayong paraan sa batas po na sa kanilang OR-CR (official recipt-certificate of registry) po ilagay doon pangalan ng kooperatiba slash Juan dela Cruz para ma-identify mo na yun ay pag-aari ng kooperatiba at ni Juan dela Cruz,” Guadiz told reporters

[Translation: But we have a way with the law that in their OR-CR, the name of the cooperative slash Juan dela Cruz will be indicated so that you can identify that the jeepney is owned by the cooperative and by Juan dela Cruz.]

Guadiz said cooperatives will accept traditional jeepneys as long as the Land Transportation Office approves it to be road worthy.

The latest LTFRB data show 56% or 96,000 of the franchises of 170,000 jeepneys across the country have consolidated. Of the total number, 25% of the 44,000 jeepney units in Metro Manila are already consolidated.

CNN Philippines correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this story.