Palace ready vs strike’s impact-A A +A
Sunday, September 18, 2011
MANILA -- Malacañang said Saturday that it is ready to counter the effects of a transport strike on Monday, citing contingency measures that will, among others, help ferry inconvenienced passengers to their respective destinations.
“We are ready for the strike. We just want to remind them that the franchises issued to the operators are merely privilege and they have an obligation to fulfill,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told state-run dzRB radio.
The 250,000-member Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) hopes that it can paralyze the city transport system on Monday in response to the government’s supposed weak response to high fuel prices.
Similar protest actions are also eyed in Cagayan De Oro, Butuan City, Ozamis, Zamboanga, Davao City, Tacloban, Baguio City, Cabanatuan, Malolos and Lipa City, among others.
However, several transport groups such as Pasang Masda, Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap) and the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations have since called off plans to strike.
Among the measures that the government will implement are the deployment of vehicles to help stranded passengers and the suspension of the number-coding scheme in Metro Manila.
Major General Tristan Kison, National Capital Region Command (NCRCOM) commander, said: “A total of 27 military trucks, six buses, four towing trucks and a fire truck will be deployed to help affected and stranded commuters. I am designating one military personnel each vehicle to assist the passengers in loading and unloading. Two security personnel each vehicle will also be provided to ensure the safety and security of the passengers on board.”
When needed, NCRCOM will tap additional vehicles from the major services; Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy, general headquarters and Headquarters Service Command to augment the mobility requirements for the operations. Civil Disturbance Management teams will be placed on standby at strategic locations for the duration of the operations.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) will also field 5,000 policemen to ensure order and security along Metro Manila's major thoroughfares when transport groups push through with their planned transport holiday on Monday.
Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome, newly installed PNP chief, said he also directed the PNP Directorate for Logistics to send out all police buses, trucks and troop carriers to assist commuters who will be affected by the projected transport holiday.
Bartolome earlier instructed local police commanders to initiate dialogue with the leaders of transport groups and keep lines of communication open for effective coordination on the movement of motorcades and marchers and other possible mass actions.
Davao region police authorities have also tightened security as they placed Davao City in full alert status to ensure no untoward incident will occur during the scheduled people's protest and transport strike Monday.
Davao Police Regional Director Jaime H. Morente ordered police station chiefs in the city to instruct their personnel to observe maximum tolerance during the mass protests.
In Cagayan de Oro, the Philippine Army and the City Government will be deploying government vehicles to offer free rides to the public who will be stranded on the streets.
In Malolos City, Bulacan, the provincial federation of transportation groups will not be joining Monday’s transport strike.
"We are supporting the calls of President Benigno Aquino III and Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado. We will do our best to make sure that the transportation in the province would not be paralyzed. We already asked the different transport groups not to join the strike on Monday and they will support our call," Jun “Batas” Pereda, president of the Panglalawigang Transportasyon ng Bulacan, said.
In November last year, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority reported that majority of 3,700 buses authorized to ply the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (Edsa) disappeared as an apparent protest to the reinstated number-coding scheme.
Some 100 bus firms were then warned of possible sanctions, ranging from suspension to outright cancellation of their franchises if they were proven guilty of staging a transport holiday.
At least 8,500 people were sidelined by the strike. (Virgil Lopez/PNA/Ivy C. Tejano of Sun.Star Davao/Michael Andrew W. Yu of Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)