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Transport strike ends after groups meet with Palace officials

MANILA, Philippines, March 8 ------ After only its second day, transport groups Manibela and PISTON declared the end to its weeklong strike following a meeting in Malacañang.

“Nagdesisyon ang aming grupo na ihinto ang transport strike, kasama ang PISTON, at magbalik pasada na simula bukas. Nais naming humingi ng paumanhin sa ating mga mananakay sa naisagawang transport strike ng aming grupo upang mabigyan ng boses ang aming mga hinain,” Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said, reading a prepared statement after the Malacañang meeting. “Sa aming mga kasamahan, huwag po kayo mabahala. Sa ating pag-unlad at pagbabago, sisiguraduhing natin mananatili ang tinaguriang hari ng kalsada,” Valbuena added. Valbuena also said that Manibela was not opposed to the modernization program as a whole. Rather, he hoped that it would be done in a way that does not leave anyone behind.

The decision to end the transport strike came after Valbuena and PISTON national president Mody Floranda met with Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil and Office of the Executive Secretary Undersecretary Roy Cervantes. In a statement, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) welcomed the end of the transport strike, which saw several organizations of jeepney drivers and operators protesting the government’s implementation of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

According to the PCO, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has also instructed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) to conduct an extensive review of the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, which outlines the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP). The LTFRB and DOTr is expected to use the extended consolidation deadline of December 31, 2023 to rework the guidelines. “Ito ay upang siguruhin na naisaalang-alang ang bawat aspeto ng implementasyon ng programa, kabilang ang pagdinig sa mga hinaing ng ating mga driver at operator,” the PCO said. The President also directed the DOTr and LTFRB to hold further consultations with jeepney drivers, operators, and the commuting public to hear their concerns about the PUV modernization program.

LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III also welcomed the decision of Manibela and PISTON to end their strike. “We have never wavered in asking our friends from MANIBELA and PISTON to sit down with us, to thresh out their concerns about the PUVMP and the modernization of the public transportation industry. We are glad they listened to our President,” Guadiz said in a statement.

The transport strike declared by transport groups was originally set on March 6 to March 12. On the first day of the strike, the government readied 1,680 vehicles to ferry stranded passengers and deployed around 18,000 police personnel to ensure peace and order.



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