TRANSPORT group Manibela will hold again a three-day nationwide transport strike from November 22 to 24, 2023.
Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said they share the sentiment of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston), which has an ongoing transport strike until November 22.
Manibela and Piston have been conducting protest action against the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program, which aims to replace the old and traditional jeepneys with high-quality and environment-friendly vehicles with bigger capacity, aiming to ensure the safety of the riding public.
Under the program, jeepney drivers should operate under a cooperative for the approval of their provisional authority (PA) for franchise.
The deadline for the consolidation was set on December 31, 2023.
So far, transport authorities said 70 percent of drivers and operators have already consolidated into cooperatives or corporations.
In a dialogue with Piston national president Mody Floranda on Monday, November 20, as they started their three-day strike, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Teofilo Guadiz III said they will look into the demands of Piston, which includes extending the deadline for consolidation, waiving of penalty for PA renewal, extension of franchise of up to five years, and the relieving of some of the provisions of the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG).
Guadiz failed, however, to encourage Piston to end their protest action, although he said that the transport holiday failed to significantly affect the public transportation, especially in Metro Manila.
“Lahat ‘pinag-aaralan.’ Pinasimple na natin ang ating demands — tanggalin ang deadline, tanggalin ang consolidation, ibasura ang phase-out. Ang sagot ng LTFRB, puro ‘pag-aaralan,’ puro paasa,” Floranda said.
(Everything is being 'studied.' We have simplified our demands — remove the deadline, remove the consolidation, scrap the phase-out. The LTFRB's answer is all but ‘it will study it’; all but promises.)
Valbuena warned that if the government will not extend the deadline for consolidation, the first day of 2024 will be welcomed with “massive” protest actions.
"Kung hindi mai-extend, January 1 colorum na kami, siguradong mas malawak, mas matinding transport strike ang sasalubong sa bagong taon. Sinisigurado ko po iyan," he said.
(If it is not extended, by January 1 we will already be considered ‘colorum.’ A wider, more intense transport strike will greet the new year. I’ll make sure of that.)
In October, Manibela staged a picket protest condemning the alleged corruption within the LTFRB involving Guadiz.
Former LTFRB senior executive assistant Jeffrey Tumbado accused Guadiz of accepting grease money worth around P5 million from transport groups for the processing of their requests, such as for the modification of route, issuance of special permit and prioritization of franchise papers.
Tumbado made the announcement during a press conference organized by Manibela.
Guadiz denied the accusations, while Tumbado later recanted his claims, saying it was “all unintentional and misguided.” (TPM/SunStar Philippines)