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Monday, September 16, 2019

LTFRB warns operators after ‘98% transport paralysis’ in Bacolod

A NINETY EIGHT percent transport paralysis, reportedly the highest in the country, was noted in Bacolod City during the 12-hour strike Monday, a transport leader said.

Diego Malacad, secretary-general of United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (Undoc), said they exceeded the target 90 percent, and got even higher than the 60 percent in National Capital Region, 50 percent in Iloilo, and 30 percent in Cebu.

Malacad said the remaining two percent are accounted for some transport operators, inside and outside Bacolod, who continued their operations amid the scheduled “people’s protest.”

“For us, local transport groups, the protest action was indeed successful as we were able to strongly demonstrate our ire by making our absence felt to the other sectors,” he added.

The nationally-coordinated strike was aimed at mainly denouncing the government’s plan to phase out public utility buses and jeepneys 15 years old and above.

The action suspended classes in almost all schools in the city, and has caused difficulties to some passengers especially workers of public and private offices and establishments.

For Undoc, the class suspension ordered by the city government and the Department of Education is a welcome move.

“It is good that other stakeholders have recognized our cause by doing actions on their own,” Malacad said.

He, however, pointed out that providing free transportation during the transport strike will not totally address the problem.

What the transport sector calls for is a long-term solution, Malacad added.

No special permits?

The Undoc on Monday scored the operation of Ceres Liner buses in the interior areas of Bacolod.

Malacad confirmed that there was “tension” after protesters stopped a bus unit for allegedly plying outside its route.

He claimed that they monitored at least nine Ceres bus units “illegally” passing some areas within the city.

“It is questionable, and impossible for the bus company to secure a special permit since the schedule of permit releasing is Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday,” Malacad said.

Renato Novero, head of Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Bacolod City, said they echoed to bus companies in the province the press statement of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) inviting them to render public service by dispatching their other units to cater to stranded passengers during strike and other emergency cases.

“A memorandum from LTFRB states that, in this instance, special permit may be granted or released to the bus operators after the transport strike,” Novero added.

Show cause order

LTFRB-Western Visayas will issue a show cause order to transport operators who violated the “no strike policy” of the agency.

Lawyer Jose Marie Lamparero, spokesperson and legal officer LTFRB-6, said the mandate is under Memorandum Circular 2011-004 attached to the approval of franchise given to operators.

The circular states that a public utility vehicle (PUV) operator shall not resort to cessation of service as a sign of demonstration or protest against any government decision under pain of suspension or cancellation of the authority to operate granted by the Board.

“Nor shall the PUV operator tolerate, allow or authorize personnel to join others committing acts prejudicial to the riding public, including but not limited to, paralyzing transport services by intimidation, coercion or violence,” it added.

Lamparero said they are currently gathering evidences against operators found participating in the “untat biyahe” who may face suspension or cancellation of franchise.

“Upon issuing the show cause order, we will give them the opportunity to explain,” he added.

Malacad said the circular providing the “no strike policy” is only within the agency thus, the transport strike is legitimate.

It will be overruled by the constitution that provides our freedom of assembly, expression and speech, he asserted.
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