Most commuters hardly felt transport strike | Inquirer News
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Most commuters hardly felt transport strike

Hundreds of commuters were stranded in some parts of northern Metro Manila, and two men were injured as members of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) held a transport strike.

Commuters hardly felt the strike in other parts of the metropolis.

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At past 9 a.m. Monday, commuters piled up along Edsa in Caloocan City, waiting for vehicles that could take them to their destinations.

Gerson Garcia, who was on his way to the office, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he had been waiting for almost an hour for a jeepney plying the MCU-Malabon route.

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“I’ve seen some but they were  already full. I woke up early today so that I could get a ride. Apparently, it was of no use,” he said.

As of 9 a.m., stranded commuters spilled over to a part of Sangandaan Road, causing heavy traffic in the area.

At least 60 policemen deployed at the Monumento area assisted the commuters, and at the same time were on the lookout for any untoward incidents.

From Edsa, a truck provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines could be seen offering free rides to the stranded commuters. Another van from the Philippine National Police offered the same services.

By 10 a.m., the number of commuters that had spilled over to the streets had been greatly reduced.

On Rizal Avenue Extension, at least 80 protesters could be seen occupying more than half of the road, urging their fellow jeepney drivers to join the transport strike.

The protesters stopped jeepneys plying their usual routes, took their placards, and hid them. “You should join us. It’s also for you,” one of them could be heard saying.

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Some jeepney drivers, for fear of being ostracized, eventually joined the strike.

One who identified himself as Tonio said that he was not affiliated with Piston, but he joined the group because of what he said were possible consequences of turning its members down.

“It’s only a day, so I guess it wouldn’t hurt me if I joined them. They might throw things on the road and burst my tires if I don’t,” he told the Inquirer.

Others, for their part, refused to take part in the strike. “I need to work so I can feed my family,” Lope Marcos, who plies the MCU-Divisoria route, told the Inquirer.

The number of people on the streets caused heavy traffic in the area, as only one lane could be used by motorists who were on their way to Manila.

Navotas

On M. Naval Street in C-4, Navotas City, commuters pushed and shoved to get a seat in the jeepneys that rarely passed by the area.

Some 40 policemen assisting the stranded commuters had to seek help from buses going southbound, to prevent the commuters from spilling over to the street and causing traffic.

“We stop the buses and tell them to take the stranded commuters to Monumento so they can take the Light Rail Transit (LRT) to their destination,” said Senior Supt. Wilson Amper.

The move caused the number of stranded commuters to build up in the area of Monumento and Line 1 of the LRT.

A check with the LRT on Rizal Avenue Extension showed a long line of commuters eager to get inside. “I have been waiting for quite some time already,” Joey Hidalgo said.

By noon, however, the situation for commuters returned to normal.

Quezon City

In Quezon City, most commuters said they didn’t feel the effects of the transport strike, but complained to police of heavier traffic than usual due to pockets of protests across the city.

Piston held strikes in several convergence points in the city—Aurora Boulevard near Annapolis Street in Cubao, Philcoa, Litex-Commonwealth, National Housing Authority Circle and Kamias-Kalayaan.

“I was late for 30 minutes in school, but I don’t think the transport strike paralyzed the road operations. It’s just heavier traffic than usual,” said Gizelle Nacar, an architecture student.

At Philcoa, at least 25 members of Piston and Sanlakas-Youth reminded drivers at University Avenue of their “common grievances” against the oil cartel and their stand against the oil deregulation law.

At least 50 militant transport protesters occupied two of the five lanes along the Philcoa southbound lane near the Petron gasoline station as of 10 a.m., causing a “bottleneck.”

Heated exchange

In Cubao, Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas and Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño engaged in a heated exchange when Roxas asked protesters not to be a “nuisance” (perwisyo) to the public.

Casiño disagreed with the “nuisance” tag, but said he ended his talk with Roxas “on cordial terms.”

“This strike is not a simple nuisance. The bigger nuisance here is how the oil cartel affects all drivers, commuters and motorists. I had to correct him on that,” Casiño said.

Some drivers were seen removing their signboards as part of their support for the strike. A significant number, however, continued to operate.

Twenty drivers called for support for the strike in  Novaliches, while  drivers’ wives joined the ranks of the protesters on Commonwealth Avenue.

Quezon Avenue experienced heavier traffic than usual when strikers occupied two lanes at the Welcome Rotunda.

Eastern Metro

The strike did not paralyze the transportation system in eastern Metro Manila.

“We did not get any report of stranded commuters throughout the day,” said Chief Supt. Francisco Manalo, Eastern police director. The Eastern Police District covers the cities of Mandaluyong, Pasig, Marikina and San Juan.

In Mandaluyong City, more jeepney drivers opted not to join the strike thinking of the daily boundary of P700 which they have to pay to their operators.

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