Metro Manila, Philippines — Transport group Manibela said from 45,000 to 50,000 drivers and operators from Metro Manila are expected to participate in the three-day nationwide “tigil-pasada” that will begin on July 24.
In an effort to draw President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s attention to the government’s lack of urgency in addressing their concerns about the PUV modernization program, the transport strike will coincide with his second State of the Nation Address.
“Siguro nasa 45,000 to 50,000 po ang kasama dito dahil ilang cities na po ang naikutan natin simula noong maghayag tayo ng tigil-pasada,” Manibela Chairman Mar Valbuena told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Weekend.
[Translation: Maybe around 45,000 to 50,000 people will participate because we have already gone around several cities since we announced the transport strike.]
Manibela said up to 300,000 people across the country are expected to join the protest action.
Valbuena said among the protesters are PUV drivers and operators that have concerns about the program’s franchising guidelines, which he claimed transport authorities have continued to ignore.
“Kahit isang libo lang kami, maiparating lang namin sa ating pangulo yung kagustuhan naming ipagpatuloy ang aming hanapbuhay, ‘yun talaga ang pinapakiusap namin sa kanya,” Valbuena said. “Huwag kami tanggalin sa kalsada lalo na ngayong mahirap maghanap ng trabaho.”
[Translation: Even if there are only a thousand of us, as long as we can convey to our president that we want to continue our work, that’s exactly what we’re begging him. Don’t take us off the road, especially now that it’s hard to find a job.]
Not all transport groups are joining the three-day nationwide strike. The so-called Magnificent Seven, which includes Pasang Masda and Altodap, are not keen on joining, as they want a dialogue instead.
However, Valbuena pointed out that dialogues with the administration have not gone anywhere.
“2017 pa lang po nung inumpisahan ang PUV modernization program, maraming dayalogo na po sa Senado, sa Kongreso. Pero ngayon, ano po ba ang naging tugon nila? ‘Di ba phaseout pa rin?” he said.
[Translation: Since 2017 when the PUV modernization program started, there have been many dialogues in the Senate, in Congress. But now, what has been their response? Isn’t it still phaseout?]
In March, Manibela and Piston also staged a transport strike that was supposed to last for a week, although it ended early after they met with government officials. At that time, Marcos assured them that his administration will review the PUV modernization program.
Transport officials recently said they have yet to set a definite deadline for modernizing passenger jeepneys in the country.