By Evan Orias
THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority yesterday urged commuters to take alternative modes of transport like the Pasig River Ferry System or the agency’s vehicles as a transport group holds a strike today.
The MMDA said it would provide stranded commuters with buses and military trucks at seven areas — Monumento (in front of the Manila Central University), SM Marikina, Luneta Parade Ground, HK Town Plaza in Pasay City, UP Technohub in Quezon City, MMDA parking lot in Makati City, and Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The MMDA said commuters can take the ferry boats at stations in Metro Manila — Pinagbuhatan station in Pasig; San Joaquin in Mandaluyong; Maybunga, Hulo, Valenzuela, and Guadalupe in Makati; and Lambingan, Sta. Ana, PUP, Lawton, Escolta, and Plaza Mexico in Manila.
The ferries operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Fare ranges from P20 to P95.
The Stop and Go Coalition said it is holding a strike in protest of government’s plan to phase out decrepit public utility vehicles (PUV).
The group also held transport strikes last July 17 and February 6, and February 27and inconvenienced passengers.
Stop and Go Coalition leader Jun Magno said the group is also against the proposed cost of e-jeepneys which is P1.6 million per unit. The Department of Transportation wants old jeepneys to be replaced with Euro 4 or electric jeeps to reduce pollution in Metro Manila.
The government plans to scrap public utility vehicles older than 15 years, including those with low-emission and vehicles with new engines and chassis but do not comply with the environmental standards by 2020.
The DOTr has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Development Bank of the Philippines for the provision of P1.5 billion for the initial implementation of the agency’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.
George San Mateo, president of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON), said his group will not participate in the strike because it was not included in the planning of the transport strike today.
San Mateo was charged last Friday by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for violating the public service law.
The complaint stemmed from the transport strike against the modernization program held on last February 27, of which San Mateo was one of the leaders.
The complaint-affidavit filed before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office said San Mateo violated the Public Service Act when he pushed through with the strike despite a prohibition stated in an LTFRB memorandum circular saying conducting a strike as a means of protest against a government action is prohibited.
The LTFRB said San Mateo and his group, by holding the transport strike, “capitalized on the public necessity, which they were supposed to serve.”
Reacting to the complaint, San Mateo yesterday accused the LTFRB of harassment, saying the complaint is intended to sow fear among jeepney drivers and operators.
He said President Duterte had given them the go-signal to stage a strike during a dialogue in Malacañang last July 18.