NINETY-EIGHT percent of the members of the transport groups in Bacolod City did not join the nationwide strike that started Monday, March 6, an official of the transport group said.

Junjun Asis, secretary-general of Sentrong Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Negros (SSTONE), said the majority of their members, including the Federation of Bacolod Drivers Association (Febacda), United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC), were supporting the nationwide transport strike, but they only held a prayer rally in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral to air their sentiments to the national government.

He said the nationwide transportation strike was planned for March 6, and it will end on March 12.

However, he added that their members, which composed of at least 3,000, will not join the activity because they don’t want to be part of the problem with the local government unit (LGU).

"Our local government unit, led by Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez and Councilor Al Victor Espino, chairperson of the City Council committee on transportation, assisted us to continue our operation in the city or the extension of our franchise to operate," Asis stressed.

Asis noted that the city government assisted them in processing their documents for the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) so they could continue their operation in the city.

Asis said their franchise had already expired since last year, and the LTFRB would not allow them to renew their documents because of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

He said the LGU communicated with the LTFRB and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), where they allowed the traditional jeepneys to operate without apprehension.

"We are supporting the PUV modernization program, but we are against the cooperative and the phase out of the traditional jeepneys," he added.

Asis said only a few drivers, who are against the city’s administration, stopped their operation Monday.

For his part, Espino said the nationwide strike did not paralyze the operations in Bacolod City because the city government continues to support the transport groups here.

"Our mayor tried his best to give a solution to the problem of the drivers, especially the traditional jeepney drivers. There’s no transport strike in the city," he said.

Major Junjie Liba, head of the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO), said at least 100 traditional jeepney drivers from various routes joined the nationwide strike, but it did not affect the operations in the city.

He said there have been no reports of stranded passengers on Monday.*