LTFRB warns Negros transport operators of ‘no strike’ policy

THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Western Visayas warned transport operators in Negros Occidental that their franchise may be suspended and cancelled if they violate the agency’s “no strike” policy.

Transport groups in the province had earlier said they will join the nationwide strike against the phase-out of public utility vehicles (PUVs) in time for the opening of classes in public schools on June 5 and 6.

LTFRB-Western Visayas Regional Director Richard Osmeña said the “no strike” policy is stipulated in Memorandum Circular 2011-004 attached to the approval of franchise given to operators.

Osmeña said the agency will issue a show-cause order to transport operators found violating its mandate.

“Transport group leaders should inform well their member-operators about the corresponding sanctions,” he said, adding that during the meeting, he already reminded them of the consequences of joining the transport strike.

Under the circular, a 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.

Last February, transport groups in Negros Occidental also joined the nationally-coordinated strike causing about 98 percent transport paralysis in Bacolod City.

The action was also intended to denounce the government’s plan to phase out public utility buses and jeepneys 15-years-old and above covered by House Bill 4334.

Osmeña said he will make sure that “it won’t happen again” under his administration.

“I will see to it sure that corresponding penalties and sanctions will be implemented to those who continue to violate the agency’s mandate,” Osmeña said, adding that protest rallies are welcomed, but not strikes as it disrupts classes and government operations.

Diego Malacad, secretary-general of United Negros Drivers and Operators Center, had earlier said the circular providing the “no strike” policy is only within the LTFRB thus, the transport strike is legitimate.

It will be overruled by the Constitution that provides our freedom of assembly, expression and speech, Malacad said, asserting that they are not yet ready for the implementation of the modernization plan and the government has not presented any alternative.
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