IF the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) suspends the circulars Cebu-based shipping operators have been opposing, the latter would postpone a province-wide strike planned for March 1.

Roble Shipping Lines’ Jose Emery Roble, a member of the board of directors of the Visayan Association of Ferryboat and Coastwise Service Operators (VAFCSO), said

they are giving DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza until today to suspend the circulars.

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If Mendoza doesn’t suspend the circulars, they are ready to stage the strike, Roble warned.

Shipping operators are complaining against government circulars that officials said are meant to impose a higher safety standard.


“We are ready for the maritime holiday. If they fail to formalize their claim, we have to push through,” he said.

Roble said that last Wednesday, they arrived at a verbal agreement with Mendoza during a short meeting with President Arroyo on board Supercat from Cebu to Tagbilaran City.

Roble said they can’t do anything with Arroyo’s decision keep Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Maria Elena Bautista in her post.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña failed to relay to President Arroyo the complaints of local taxi operators and ship owners last Wednesday night. He said he

lacked time to raise the issues.

Osmeña earlier told members of the Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Association (MCTOA) that he would relay to President Arroyo their request to replace Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 Director Romulo Bernardes.

He also told members of VAFCSO last Tuesday that he would ask Arroyo to sack Bautista.

MCTOA and VAFCSO members are protesting the officials for their allegedly unreasonable policies in their agencies, which they said are affecting their operations.

“I talked to her staff and there’s no problem anymore. As you all know, the President acted on it already,” Osmeña said of the VAFCSO’s concerns.

As for the MCTOA members’ problem with Bernardes, the mayor said he also was not able to discuss the matter with Arroyo.

“It was just too quick a series of events, then I had to rush to dinner with the barangay captains,” he said.

Arroyo attended the 73rd Charter Day celebration and awarding ceremony last Wednesday night, but stayed very briefly to accept an award from city officials and to

deliver a brief speech. She left the Cebu City Sports Center immediately after addressing city officials.