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Authorities set for transport protest

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:19 AM March 30, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Contingency plans were in place to ensure that motorists and the riding public would not be inconvenienced by a protest caravan to be mounted by transport groups on Thursday.

This was the assurance given Tuesday by various government agencies, including the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

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MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency was prepared to deploy at least 66 vehicles to provide free rides to commuters who might end up stranded as a result of the protest march to be spearheaded by the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).

He added that they had also prepared alternate routes for motorists as he advised the public to avoid Quezon Avenue where the caravan was expected to pass on its way to Mendiola.

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According to National Capital Region Police Office Director Nicanor Bartolome, although the protest was expected to be peaceful, they were ready to deploy 5,000 policemen if necessary.

“Since the transport groups claim that what they are going to stage is a caravan and not a strike, we expect it to be peaceful and not paralyze the transport system. We expect their movement to be fast and that they will not occupy areas where they are not allowed. Nevertheless, we’re prepared for any eventuality. We have already laid out our plans so that the caravan will not have any impact as far as peace and order is concerned,” Bartolome told reporters.

He said around 200 passengers jeepneys were expected to join the caravan, which would converge at the Quezon City Memorial Circle (QCMC) at 10 a.m. before proceeding to Mendiola in Manila for a program.

“According to the transport groups during their initial meeting with the DOTC [Department of Transportation and Communication], not all of them are joining the protest and many of them will still ply their routes,” Bartolome said.

The LTFRB, on the other hand, warned transport groups that their franchises would be cancelled if the protest action would paralyze the transport system.

“[A] caravan is okay. But should they hold a strike and there is a shortage of jeeps in a route, then that would redound to a violation of the franchise. We will issue a show-cause order for them to explain why their certificates of public convenience should not be cancelled or revoked,” said lawyer Manuel Iway, an LTFRB board member.

Iway added that they would deploy a team to monitor the demonstration.

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According to him, the LTFRB considers strikes illegal. “Public transportation is a vital industry that affects the riding public,” he said.

George San Mateo of Piston earlier said the protest was aimed at drawing attention to their call for government to scrap the oil deregulation law and value-added tax on fuel products and investigate the alleged overpricing of oil products.

Tolentino, meanwhile, said motorists could use the following alternate route: westbound from QCMC, turn right on North Avenue, straight to Edsa, take U-turn slot at SM North, right on West Avenue, right on Del Monte, left on Araneta Avenue, then right on Ma. Clara Street and straight to Andalucia toward their destination.

For eastbound traffic from Recto, straight to Sergio Loyola Street, straight to Matimyas, right on E. Rodriguez Avenue, left on Banawe or straight to Araneta Avenue then straight to Edsa.—With Paolo G. Montecillo

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TAGS: Government, protest, Road Transport
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