MANILA — Transport authorities and some groups on Saturday have criticized the looming weeklong strike of public transport operators and drivers opposing the government’s modernization program, saying this policy is meant to help the public in the long-run.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista believed that the modernization program would make public transport affordable to both passengers as cooperatives would help run the system. This would make fares as cheap as possible, he said, while also admitting that the program would be hard to implement.
“Yung accessibility kasi isipin natin na mayroon tayong mga kababayan na may kapansanan. Mga PWD, seniors, so hindi sila mahihirapan bumalik doon sa mga bago at moderno.
“May mga issues kaya ang opisina natin ay open para mapag-usapan ang mga issues na ito,” the official said.
Other benefits of industry consolidation include the end of a boundary system, proper work schedule, the addition of mechanics, dispatchers, and presence of administrative staff to make operations “efficient,” he said.
For his part, Pasang Masda president Obet Martin said a transport strike would not be the solution to public transport drivers’ problems. He was confident that only a few drivers would join the cause.
Joining a cooperative, Martin noted, will not mean that drivers and operators would lose their rights or ownership of their vehicle. This is just a way for them to loan for the modern unit, he said.
“If we say corporation, nakapangalan sa kooperasyon. In the case of cooperative, clarification para maunawaan ng ating mga nakikinig at nanonood na mga operador ng jeepney: Kayo ay part ng kooperatiba at kayo ang may-ari ng prangkisa,” said Martin.
“Kayo ang magpapatakbo ng inyong samahan at magkakaroon ng proper dispatch ng unit para kumita nang maayos kayo. Ang kikitain niyo diyan, all of the expenses, magdidibidendo ang coop among themselves as members,” he added.
Joel Bolano, chief of LTFRB's technical division, also allayed fears of drivers and operators that they would lose the ownership and their rights to their transport vehicles.
“Part owner sila, hindi mawawala ang ownership nila sa sasakyan,” he said.
GOV’T PREPARED FOR STRIKE
Bautista said over 60 percent of transport vehicles have already consolidated, with many regions already complying with the requirements.
“Ang reassurance ay mga statement ng successful operators na dahil nag-consolidate sila… profitable ang kanilang operations,” he said.
Law enforcement authorities from the national police and the Philippine Coast Guard will be deployed, according to the transport chief.
“Na-identify na rin po namin iyong mga areas and ito po ay kinonfirm na ni Ka Obet at ni Ka Lando na itong mga areas na ito ay dapat talagang magkaroon ng police visibility,” he said, without specifying where these areas are.
“And aside from police visibility po ay mayroon din po kaming mga tao coming from the Philippine Coast Guard na tutulong at susuporta doon sa ating mga police at sa Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he added.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. directed the transport chief on Friday to continue holding dialogue with stakeholders regarding the sector’s modernization, he said, and help those who would be affected.
Malacañang on Friday said the majority or "94 percent of jeepney drivers" will not join the weeklong strike next week. About 40,000 jeepney and UV express drivers, under the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, Manibela, and Piston, are reportedly expected to join the strike.
But during his meeting with government agencies on Friday, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Hubert Guevarra said contingency measures are in place to mitigate the effects of the transport strike.
Police will also deploy at least 41 transport vehicles to assist affected passengers, the Palace said.