Makati suspends free shuttle rides
With the change of leadership in Makati City comes a casualty: The free shuttle service for Metro Rail Transit (MRT) passengers bound for Makati City and vice versa.
Acting Makati Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr. on Monday said that the free rides would temporarily be unavailable pending a review of the contracts of the city government’s casual employees, among them the shuttle bus drivers.
The move prompted Makati spokesman Joey Salgado, who is aligned with the Binay camp, to liken Peña to a “dictator.”
Earlier Salgado described the suspension of the shuttle services—an initiative of suspended Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay for Makati-based employees—as more evidence of the Liberal Party’s “manhid, palpak (callous, ineffective)” leadership.
“The decision to stop the free shuttle services for MRT commuters is proof that the callous and failed leadership of the Liberal Party is what guides Vice Mayor Peña [in his post],” Salgado said in a text message.
He reminded Peña, who assumed the post of acting mayor Wednesday after Binay complied with the second suspension order issued by the Ombudsman over overpricing allegations, that the shuttle service was backed by an ordinance.
“His job as executive is to implement whatever ordinance the council approves. He shouldn’t act like a dictator and disregard approved council ordinances,” Salgado said.
However, Peña clarified that he did not order the shuttle services stopped.
“The problem is that the drivers’ contracts as casual employees have lapsed. Perhaps the drivers saw it fit to temporarily stop reporting for duty as it is questionable. But we have given the go signal for them to go to work and continue the [free shuttle] services,” he said.
The city government operates four air-conditioned buses and two coasters which offer free rides to Ayala Avenue-bound MRT passengers coming from the North Avenue station in Quezon City and vice versa. The project was launched in March last year by Binay after the MRT hiked its fares. Around 600 passengers avail themselves of the service between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. from Mondays to Fridays.
It was reported Friday that around 4,000 contracts of city government employees listed as casuals would lapse Tuesday. The contracts were all up for renewal, Peña added.
Among his first acts in office was to put on hold the renewal of contracts pending a physical inventory and performance evaluation to weed out “ghost” or bogus employees.
He also suspended Makati’s “sister city” agreements with other local government units as well as the Makati Friendship Suites, a controversial hotel where the city’s official guests could stay, pending a comprehensive audit of the pacts. This was later on condemned by the Binay camp as they maintained that Peña had “no authority” as acting mayor to cancel contracts or programs.
As for Salgado, Peña said he would issue a memorandum against him as the latter has yet to report for duty since city hall resumed normal operations Thursday.
“First of all, he was not present during the department heads’ meetings even though he is a regular employee of the city government. According to the law, I am acting mayor. Who is he really serving then? The city government of Makati or someone else?” he asked.
Salgado, on the other hand, said he “would wait for the memo.”–With Krixia Subingsubing
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