By Marita Moaje
MANILA – While the government said the national transport strike failed to paralyze mobility in Metro Manila and other key provincial cities, some commuters have urged drivers and operators joining the weeklong protest to end the strike at once.
They said the ongoing protest will neither help the commuting public nor the drivers’ families protesting the government’s Public Utility Vehicles Modernization Program (PUVMP).
Former jeepney driver Alfredo Loangco from Montalban, Rizal said he used to drive a traditional jeepney since 1989, but had to retire in 2017 due to health issues.
He said his sons took over his job, plying three jeepney units in their area. Loangco said he understands the pressure now faced by former colleagues in the transport sector but at the same time he feels anxious about the effect on their families if they continue with the strike.
Loangco, who had a scheduled checkup Monday lined up with other commuters at Quezon City Circle to avail of the free ride program of the various government units.
“Kawawa ang pamilya non, mga apo ko walang kakainin yon kung titigil, mga driver mga anak ko hanggang ngaun naka standby sila sabi ko byahe kayo wag kayong sumama jan sa mga rally rally, pano bukas may kakainin ba mga anak nyo (Their family will suffer, my grandchildren, they will have nothing to eat if my children who are working as drivers do not work. I told them to go on with their work and not join these protests. How about tomorrow, how are you going to feed your children?),” Loangco told Philippine News Agency.
Linda Robles who has a long-term disability said that while she does not favor the phasing out of the traditional jeepneys, she believed that the weeklong protest would not do any good to the drivers.
She said that only some drivers groups that are benefitting from the situation.
“Para sa unyon yan e, yang presidente ng ano nila ng samahan ng mga jeepney o sabihin nya na mag strike kayo kawawa mga driver anong kakainin ng pamilya , may pagkain sya syempre swelduhan sya may nagpu-protect may magpopondo sa kanya na no bibigyan nya ba yon? (The union president will just tell the other drivers to strike, I pity their family, but not the union president since he has his salary and they have funds, will he give the funds to the other drivers?),” she asked.
Despite the ongoing transport strike, some passengers said they were not affected after all since the government prepared well to cushion the impact of the protest.
Mercedes Arceo and Carmen Dela Peña were just thankful for the free ride through the “Libreng Sakay” program.
“Wala naman din nangyayari kasi sila rin naman mahihirapan mga driver kasi may mga libreng sakay naman dito (Its like nothing happened, it is just them, the drivers, who will suffer because there are free rides), they said.
Quezon City Traffic Operations Chief Dexter Cardenas said that the city government deployed about 96 buses to assist commuters affected by the transport strike.
“Hindi na-paralyzed o hindi nagkaron ng epekto na ma stranded ang mga commuters because of the availability ng maraming maraming libreng sakay (The protest did not paralyze or affected the commuters because of the availability of free rides),” he said.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said the local government deployed QCity Buses in areas where passengers usually converge such as Cubao, Commonwealth Avenue, Welcome Rotonda, Novaliches Bayan, LTFRB, East Avenue, Quezon Memorial Circle and Fairview.
She has also directed village officials to provide free rides to their constituents who may be affected.
Belmonte added that to ensure the safety of the commuting public, the city government has also deployed additional personnel from the Traffic and Transport Management Department, Department of Public Order and Safety and the Quezon City Police District. (PNA)