“Tuloy ang welga!”. The transport strike by the Manibela group planned for next week will supposedly push through. In response, the MMDA will be deploying Libreng Sakay buses and is mulling the possible suspension of the UVVRP or “Coding” as well on the first day of the 1-week strike. Accessibility to public transportation will take a big hit, and contingency and safety measures are being implemented.
MMDA and LGUs formulating plans to address a “paralyzed” public transport system
Earlier this week, transport group Manibela announced a week-long strike starting next week, March 7, in response to the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP). The government has long pushed for the updating of PUV fleets to that of modern units and has consistently been met with appeals and a lot of anger from operators and drivers alike.
Numerous deadline extensions have been given by the LTFRB for operators and drivers to comply, the latest one being the December 31, 2023 deadline that was issued two days ago. That didn’t seem to kill the fire, though, as the strike is still poised to happen next week.
The MMDA and various LGUs are preparing to address the situation and will deploy Libreng Sakay buses for commuters to be able to travel to and from their destinations. Along with the free bus rides, the MMDA is also looking at the possibility (and likelihood) of suspending Number Coding on the first day of the transport strike as well. The likelihood of Coding being suspended the whole week is still unclear.
Seeing that only members of Manibela have “committed” to the transport strike, calls from other transport groups have also made their way to the MMDA. Drivers and operators of different groups not included in the strike are requesting the Libreng Sakay not be deployed immediately because it could impact their earnings for the week. Commuters will more likely opt for free transportation and that means less income for those who will still be plying roads and providing public transport for commuters.
We’re all about being heard, but whether we are pro or anti-PUVMP, we have to admit that a transport strike that lasts for a week will affect hundreds if not thousands of commuters. Given the contingencies of the government (eg Libreng Sakay), it will also affect Manibela’s fellow operators and drivers. Right now, it really seems like a bad pickle for everyone.
Let’s hope there’s still time, and that Manibela will allow open talks and reason and decide to not push through with the transport strike, for everyone’s sake.