TRANSPORT groups called off Monday a planned strike Tuesday after meeting with officials of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), and Land Transportation Office (LTO).

The agencies ironed out the details of the implementation of a unified traffic ticketing system in the metropolis.

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“We’re putting off the transport strike on Tuesday so we can find a final solution to this problem,” Efren De Luna, president of the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (Acto), said after the dialogue held at the Club Filipino, Greenhills, San Juan City.

De Luna, whose group are the ones spearheading the planned strike, said he and his colleagues in the transport sector are pleased with the result of the dialogue and the promise of the officials to implement the single traffic ticketing system (STS) in Metro Manila.

But other transport leaders present during the dialogue found themselves surprised after De Luna’s announcement that “they” will be temporarily suspending the planned strike today.

The surprise, however, was not because of the cancellation but because they were not informed by Acto that they were planning to hold a transport strike in their behalf.

“Hindi kami kasama sa [transport] strike na ‘yan. Kung anu ang pananaw ng aming kasamang Efren de Luna ay sa kanya na ‘yun. Pero hindi talaga kami kasama sa pinaplano ng ACTO na strike,” said Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap) President Zenaida Maranan.

Other transport leaders immediately walked out of the dialogue, saying they will not allow themselves to be used by De Luna for his own agenda.

“Gusto ko na nga siyang batuhin ng kamatis. Wala talaga kaming kaalam-alam sa strike na ‘yan. Ang pinag-uusapan dito ay yung Single Ticketing System pero ‘yun pala may sinusulong na s’yang iba,” said another transport leader is apparently disgusted by De Luna’s motive.

“Talagang nagulat ako sa mga pinagsasabi ni de Luna. Wala kaming kaalam-alam na kasama pala kami dun sa sinasabi nyang strike,” he added.

Earlier, the militant Pagkakaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (Piston) said it will not join any planned strike by De Luna’s group, saying they do not trust De Luna to really fight for the rights of the transport sector.

“Bagamat lehitimong problema ng mga drivers ang isyung dadalhin sa diumano’y welga sa Pebrero 23, subalit duda kami sa motibo at sinseridad ni De Luna na isulong ang binabalak nitong welga. Mahirap para sa amin na sumama sa diumano’y transport strike ni De Luna dahil wala syang kredibilidad sa mayorya ng mga tsuper at operators sanhi ng maraming beses nitong pagbaligtad at pagbalimbing sa maraming welga sa nakaraan,” Piston Secretary General George San Mateo said.

“Batay sa aming naging karanasan kay De Luna sa mga nakaraang welga, wala itong prinsipyo at lagi itong biglang bumabalimbing at umuurong sa mga labanan kapag ito ay “kinakausap” ng Malacanang at ng mga malalaking kumpanya ng langis,” he added.

On Friday, Acto threatened that it will be staging a metro-wide strike to protest the alleged failure of the authorities to implement the STS even as they assailed the different ticketing systems of various local government units in Metro Manila.

De Luna pointed out that under Republic Act No. 7924, the law creating the MMDA, the MMDA is the only agency authorized to issue traffic violation receipts (TVRs) within Metro Manila, not the LGUs.

He also complained that they are being treated as “milking cows” by the LGUs that charge exorbitant traffic fines.

“Our routes take us to different cities. Every city has its own traffic ordinance and most of the time we are being issued several traffic violation tickets. Lahat ng kita namin ay napupunta na lang sa pagbabayad ng traffic fines,” he said.

De Luna pointed out that RA 7924, being a special law, takes precedence over the 1991 Local Government Code that gives LGUs autonomy to direct traffic and issue traffic tickets within its territorial jurisdictions.

Monday’s dialogue between the MMDA, the DOTC, LTO and Quezon City second district Representative Mary Ann Susano, the House Committee Chairman on Metro Manila Development, and the transport groups was meant to iron out an initial agreement with the Metro Manila local government units on the STS on traffic violations.

It was Susano who convinced De Luna to forgo with their planned protest action.

Susano also informed De Luna that the Metro Manila mayors have agreed in principle to set aside their separate ticketing ordinances and use only the TVR of the MMDA.

She said MMDA has agreed to let the LGUs get all the traffic fines from the MMDA TVR provided the traffic ticket to be used is that of the MMDA.

“Ako ay aatras sa aking pagtakbo bilang mayor ng Quezon City kapag hindi nagawan ng solusyon ang problema ng ating mga kasamahang drivers at operators,” Susano added.

For his part, MMDA General Manager Robert Nacianceno said they are now coordinating with the Metro mayors on the STS implementation. “We are still ironing out the final kinks in the implementation of the scheme.” (AH/Sunnex)