Northern Mindanao groups shun transport strike
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — The members of two transport cooperative groups in Northern Mindanao will not be taking part in the planned weeklong nationwide transport strike starting Monday, March 6.
“We are not a part of any transport strike. Our member-cooperatives have already made a commitment not to join the strike,” said Luzminda Escobidal, chief executive officer of the Northern Mindanao Federation of Transport Service Cooperative (Nomfedtrasco), said on Sunday
According to Escobidal, Nomfedtrasco, with 50 member-cooperatives operating in the region’s five provinces, is satisfied with the implementation of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) PUV modernization program and that there is no reason for them to join the strike.
At present, she said, 45 percent of the total membership of the federation have already modernized their fleets and are operated with new PUVs that are compliant with the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG).
Under the OFG, the transport cooperatives and corporations must switch to modernized PUVs that are equipped with such amenities as GPS monitors, CCTV cameras, air conditioners, and an automated fare collection system, and are running on at least Euro 4-compliant engines.
Escobidal said a transport strike could disrupt the daily routine of workers, students and business owners, and residents who rely on PUV services.
In a statement, Nomfedtrasco has denied the assertion of Mar Valbuena, chairman of the group Malayang Alyansa ng Bus Employees at Laborers para sa Karapatan sa Paggawa (Manibela), that the federation would join the nationwide strike.
The federation has also clarified that it is not a member of Manibela which recently declared a week-long nationwide transport strike to oppose the deadline for industry consolidation until June 30 as set by the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and to seek to retain their provisional authority to operate.
In a recent decision, LTFRB has extended the deadline to the end of the year to give more time for PUV operators and drivers to consolidate their franchises into a cooperative or a corporation as part of the government’s public transport modernization program.
Nomfedtrasco said it is strongly supporting the LTFRB’s PUV modernization roadmap, with its member cooperatives already compliant with the consolidation requirement set by the DOTr.
“The transport federation acknowledges the prejudice that the impending transport strike may affect the riding public. It also acknowledges that participating in the strike may defeat the purpose of the PUV modernization program,” Nomfedtrasco said.
Another group, the National Confederation of Transport Unions (NCTU) in Northern Mindanao, said they would also not join the transport strike.
Joel Gabatan, NCTU vice president for Northern Mindanao, said the decision was reached by members during a meeting several days ago.
Although they would continue to tend to their routes, Gabatan said they would also continue to demand that the government address the various kinks of the PUV modernization program.