Jeepney ‘protest’ fizzles out in Cebu
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The transport “protest” by jeepney drivers in Metro Cebu failed to cripple commuter routes in major cities, but a group leader said they succeeded in letting the government know about their strong opposition to the plan to phase out public utility jeepneys (PUJs) over 15 years old.
The protest action had a slight effect on the transport system in Lapu-Lapu City, but there was no impact at all in two other major cities – Cebu City and Mandaue City.
Frank Brazil, head of the City Traffic Management System of Lapu-Lapu City, said the number of PUJs plying from Lapu-Lapu City to Mandaue City during peak hours starting at 6:30 a.m. decreased by almost 10 percent but the situation returned to normal at past 10 a.m.
Brazil said the city government was able to deploy two tourist buses to ferry some stranded passengers from Lapu-lapu City to Park Mall area in Mandaue City.
The buses had at least seven trips. Another seven barangay vehicles also helped ferry stranded passengers with at least one trip each, he added.
The advisory from the Lapu-Lapu City government showed that they have ferried 616 stranded passengers, most of them students and workers.
At least 12 government vehicles were standby at the city terminal to ferry stranded passengers in the afternoon, but according to Brazil, more jeepneys were back plying their routes at past 10 a.m.
In Cebu City, Joy Tumulak, operations chief of the Cebu City Transportation Office, said they did not field any buses within the city because the traffic flow remained normal since morning.
“Some areas even experienced heavy traffic”, he said.
In Mandaue City, Rey Puno, head of the enforcement unit of the Traffic Enforcement /Agency in Mandaue (TEAM), said they put government vehicles on standby but did not have to deploy them to the streets because the protest action did not leave any impact at all.
Rudy Laconza, chairman of the Alliance of Transport Organization Member Intra Cebu City (ATOMIC), admitted that they were not able to totally cripple the transportation system in the major cities because as they were not able to properly inform all jeepney drivers about the strike.
But Laconza said their protest action was not a total failure.
He said they were able to talk to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB ) 7 regional director Rey Elnar who invited them to a meeting on Thursday to discuss their views on the proposed phaseout of jeepneys.
Around 50 drivers joined the picket rally in front of the LTFRB 7 office along the north reclamation area in Cebu City at 10 a.m.
They held placards criticizing President Aquino and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya for the planned phase-out of jeepneys.
One placard bore words seeking the resignation of Abaya: “DOTC Secretary Abaya resign.” Another placard stated “No to PUJ Phase Out without proper consultation.
They said the plan would burden the riding public, the drivers and operators.
Transport groups ATOMIC, Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON), and the National Confederation of Transport Union joined the protest action.
The Alyansa sa mga Nagkahiusang Drayber alang sa Reporma (ANDAR) did not participate and Laconza said, it was because of lack of proper information.
Director Elnar said they told the drivers that the supposed PUJ phaseout was just a draft department order, which would still be subject to consultation.
Elnar said they advised the leaders of the transport groups to visit his office on Thursday at 10 a.m. to talk about the issue and submit their position papers. SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.