MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III yesterday gave assurance that contingency plans are in place for the three-day transport strike starting July 24, which will coincide with President Marcos’ second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Guadiz also added that the strike only aims to embarrass the president.
“Yes, it is meant to embarrass the government at the time the President will have his SONA,” he confirmed.
The LTFRB chief also belittled the mobilization of transport group Manibela, saying only 2,000 jeepneys are expected to participate in the three-day strike as the so-called Magnificent Seven or the biggest transport group will not join.
“Based on the headcount last Friday on who will be and who will not be joining the strike, the strike will be focused only in Metro Manila and as far as the Visayas and Mindanao are concerned, zero. No one is joining the strike. For Luzon, we are looking at Region 4 as a possible area where there could possibly be a small degree of participants but it’s very insignificant,” he added.
Meanwhile, Manibela president Mar Valbuena has told The STAR the transport strike would analyze transportation in Metro Manila and other provinces, adding that only Marcos could stop them. Rescue buses will be deployed during the three-day strike to assist stranded commuters, according to Guadiz.
“We have our dialogue with bus operators, we have ample vehicles during the strike. We asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help us in the deployment as well as the maintenance of peace and order in areas where (there are) potential troubles,” he said. He added that the PNP and the LTFRB are ready to implement these contingencies.
“There may be situations where jeepney drivers will be forced to join; there will be stone throwing and even use of spikes,” Guadiz said.
According to Guadiz, in the recent transport strike organized by Manibela on March 6, only 8.7 percent of jeepney drivers in the National Capital Region (NCR) took part.
“That is why we are not that much concerned about the strike, but nevertheless, we are taking all necessary precautions,” Guadiz said, adding that the 8.7 percent numbered 1,100 to 2,000 jeepneys. He disclosed that based on the dialogue with the seven biggest associations, their members will not join the transport strike.
“Most of the members have expressed to work on these dates for the reason that for these jeepney drivers, every day counts,” the LTFRB chief said.
He further mentioned that the majority of the anticipated affected routes are located in Quezon City.
“About two or three significant routes in Quezon City will be affected – the same routes that were affected during the last strike. I think it’s just history repeating itself. Based on their strength, these routes are in Quezon City, one of them is Balintawak, which I am keenly watching right now,” Guadiz said.
“Two weeks ago before they announced the strike, I had a dialogue with the president of Manibela and to my surprise, he declared a strike. We always extended our hand to them and in fact, I tried to reach out to him to forgo their strike since the very reason for their strike is really non-existent. They are afraid of phaseout. There is no such thing as phaseout of jeepneys nationwide,” he added. During the meeting with Valbuena, the LTFRB chief gave assurance that the agency will gradually address the issues the group raised.
“It was a very cordial meeting. We were discussing the complaints of Manibela, and I have expressed my desire to address these concerns, though I have to admit to him that I cannot address all of them on time,” Guadiz said. – WhatALife!/Val
Also read: Magma Keeps Rising to Mayon’s Crater