Palace: Very few passengers affected by strike

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 19 2011 01:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 19 2011 10:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Monday said it is dismayed that transport group PISTON went ahead with its transport strike despite a dialogue with President Benigno Aquino III last week.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that despite the transport holiday, the government was able to assist the riding public.
“Dismayado rin naman kami na nag-strike sila. [Nakipag-usap] na sila kay Pangulong Aquino. Maayos ang pag-uusap. PISTON chose to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. Of course, we are not happy with their decision but as we have proven, we are prepared to meet them head on with respect to their decision to go on strike,” he said. 
Quoting a report from Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, Lacierda said “very, very few” were reported stranded in “very few” areas.
“It appears that our contingency measures are taking effect. There are very, very few stranded passengers in very, very limited areas,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said there was no strike reported in Regions 1, 2, 5, and 7. Eleven buses were deployed to ferry stranded commuters in Region 4.
Forty percent of public transportation in Region 10 reportedly went on strike but the Department of Transportation and Communications said this did not affect commuters much. Lacierda said the buses deployed in the region were not used much because of the sufficient number of public utility vehicles left plying the area.
Lacierda said the President’s dialogue with transport groups helped in discouraging other transport groups to join the strike. He said the government recognizes rising oil prices as a problem and assured that the government is doing something to help the transport sector. Lacierda cited the plan to help jeepneys convert their engines to be able to use the cheaper auto LPG.
“We recognize oil prices hikes as a problem. In fact, we are addressing those concerns. Again, some people chose be part of the problem rather than be part of the solution,” Lacierda said.
The Palace spokesman is leaving it to the concerned agencies to determine if laws were violated during the strike and assess the overall effect of the strike. Lacierda cited that franchises of a number of buses were suspended when they staged a strike early this year.
Lacierda said Roxas, who was supposed to leave last night for the US and join the presidential delegation, decided to stay behind to monitor the transport strike. He said Roxas will be following the President later.