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After the Palace meeting, the transport unions abandon their strike.

In order to address concerns about the implementation of the PUV modernization program, PISTON president Mody Florada (right) and Manibela Transport Group chair Mar Valbuena met with Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil (2nd from left) and Office of the Executive Secretary Undersecretary Roy Cervantes (left) on Tuesday (March 7, 2023) in Malacaang. The transport leaders ended on Tuesday night what was going to be a weeklong transport strike. (Image provided by PCO)

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LAGUNA – After meeting with Palace representatives on Tuesday night, the transport organizations Manibela and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) declared the end of their statewide strike. Jeepneys are scheduled to start operating on their normal routes as of Wednesday.

In a video posted on the official Facebook page of the Presidential Communications Office, Manibela chair Mar Valbuena and PISTON president Mody Florada declared their intention to stop the transport strike (PCO).

“Our group and PISTON have decided to halt the transport strike and resume route service as of tomorrow [Wednesday],” Valbuena stated.

He thanked the passengers for their patience and apologized for putting on a transport strike.

Also, Valbuena made it clear that their groups wanted the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) to be carried out in a way that wouldn’t jeopardize their ability to support themselves.

The PCO posted images of a meeting between the leaders of the transport groups and PCO Secretaries Cheloy Garafil and Roy Cervantes from the Office of the Executive Secretary.

The meeting provided the transport group leaders with an opportunity to voice their concerns on the PUVMP’s implementation.

The nationwide strike that was originally scheduled to last from Monday through Saturday but ended after only two days was called off, which was also appreciated by the PCO.

The PCO stated, “The government welcomes the decision of the Manibela Transport Group to end this week’s transport strike, which was implemented in connection with their opposition to the implementation of the PUVMP. Ikinalulugod ng Pamahalaan ang naging desiyon ng Manibela Transport Group na itigil ang isinasagawang transport strike ngayong linggo.

As for the PUVMP, the PCO stated that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. directed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to evaluate the provisions of Department Order 2017-011, also known as the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines.

He asked the two organizations to make sure that every facet of the program’s operation is taken into account, including the complaints of drivers and operators.

Recall that the original deadline of June 30 had been changed to December 31 for the consolidation of PUVMP regulations, not for the phase-out of conventional jeepney units.

The DOTr and the LTFRB are also scheduled to conduct consultations with drivers and operators to guarantee the PUVMP’s smooth implementation.

Marcos previously stated that more conversations amongst stakeholders, notably organizations representing jeepney drivers, are necessary before the PUVMP is implemented.

In the meantime, the LTFRB on Wednesday praised the decision made by transport groups to end their week-long protest following discussions with Palace representatives.

LTFRB head Teofilo Guadiz III praised Manibela and PISTON for answering Marcos’ appeal and ending the strike for the benefit of passengers in a statement.

Guadiz claimed that Marcos gave the DOTr and LTFRB instructions to modify the PUVMP to be more “responsive and inclusive” to the requirements of public transportation operators and drivers.

He stated that the end of the strike is an “opportunity” to collaborate for an improved public transportation system that would benefit commuters as well as drivers and operators.

“The LTFRB remains open, with the help of the DOTr, to dialogues where we can thoroughly discuss how to improve the PUVMP and how drivers and operators can adhere to the program,” Guadiz said.

Also, he expressed gratitude to municipal and other federal governments for helping to lessen the impact of the strike on commuters.

“Naniniwala po ang LTFRB na walang sigalot at di pagkaka-intindihan na hindi malulutas basta mag-uusap, magtutulong-tulong, magsasama-sama, at magkakaisa (The LTFRB believes that there is no conflict or misunderstanding that cannot be resolved through dialogue, collaboration, unity, and solidarity),” he said.

On Monday, the PUVMP demonstration began, and it was scheduled to go on until Saturday.

The national government offered free rides to commuters during the two-day nationwide transportation strike and dispatched additional PUVs to serve the impacted routes.

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