MANILA, Philippines – Another transport group will hold a three-day strike starting today, amid the December 31 deadline for public utility vehicles (PUVs) to consolidate into cooperatives or corporations as part of the Modernization Program of Public Utility Vehicles (PUVMP).
At a press conference on Tuesday, Manibela president Mar Valbuena said that its members across the country were expected to join the strike from 22 to 24 November.
The group, according to Valbuena, has around 150,000 to 200,000 members, made up of drivers and operators of passenger jeepneys, multicabs and UV Express vans.
Valbuena said its members would cease operating on their routes in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), Central Visayas, Western Visayas and some parts of Mindanao, Sultan of Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos).
Manibela’s protest action follows a three-day strike led by another transport group, Piston, which ends on Wednesday. Both groups are against the requirement for consolidation by the end of the year, among other PUVMP issues.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), however, downplayed the impact of the protest actions led by Piston and Manibela.
The MMDA said it has prepared 686 vehicles to transport stranded passengers. Local governments also provided their own vehicles for “libreng sakay” (free ride).
Source of livelihood
Valbuena said: “We are not doing this with the intention of making our kababayan suffer, we are doing this so that we in the transport sector are heard because what is at stake here is the main source of our livelihood.”
This will be the second transport strike in Manibela since October 16, when they raised the same concerns against the PUVMP.
While Valbuena acknowledged that most PUV drivers and operators in the country had already formed cooperatives or corporations, he said some “expressed regret that they had agreed to consolidate because after purchasing the modern unit, they realized they could not afford the monthly amortization fee. .”
In several cases, drivers and operators had no choice but to see their modern jeepneys repossessed by financial institutions because they had not paid the depreciation.