Nalzaro: Let local chief executives decide

FOR two days, Malacañang suspended work in the government sector and classes in public schools (private schools followed suit) because of the transport strike staged by transport groups protesting the possible phase out of public utility jeepneys. So there were no transactions in government offices and schools have to hold make up classes on Saturdays.

I think it was an overreaction and a counter-productive move. It was not a wise decision and we just encouraged transport groups to stage more strikes in the future thinking that they can hold hostage the government. It seems like the government succumbed to the whims of these groups.

The strike was not even felt in Metro Cebu and other key cities in the country. Maybe it was felt in Metro Manila where there are millions of government employees and students. In Cebu, only few members of the left-leaning Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) participated in the strike and the transport system was not paralyzed.

And even if participation was wide, local government units in Metro Cebu had prepared contingency measures to preempt the shortage of public utility vehicles. Cities here have vehicles like Kaoshiung buses, dump trucks and multicabs that can be dispatched. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTRFB) also issued special permits allowing big bus companies to operate in the city. There are taxis, Uber and Grab units. And I think many ordinary employees have motorcycle units. Some schools are walking distance from students’ residences.

I fully agree with the opinion of some local officials that during transport strikes, local chief executives (mayors or governors) should be given the discretion to decide whether to suspend work and classes or not as they know the situation in their respective areas.

The situation in the provinces is different from Metro Manila. Imagine, suspending government work and classes in remote areas where jeepneys are not operating. Pointless.

These transport groups, specially drivers organizations are wrong in being apprehensive about the possible phase out of jeepneys. It is not total phase out but modernization. The government just wants to modernize or upgrade the PUJs to make these safer and convenient to the riding public. Look at our jeepneys now. Panahon pa ni Mampor. Karaan ug kagang-kagang na. Kun madisgrasya man ta, dili ta mamatay sa bun-og kun dili mamatay ta sa tetanus.

I saw in an LTFRB post in social media pictures of the units that will replace the old ones that are running now. It is well-designed and very comfortable, equipped with CCTV cameras and wi-fi.

The problem with some operators is that they don’t like to invest and they justify it by saying that modernization is pro-big business. Aw, maayo lang diay mo modawat sa kuwarta sa mga pasahero apan dili ninyo suklian og maayong serbisyo? Magmantiner lang gihapon ta anang gubaon? Hangtod kanus-a man ta magmantiner?
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