As classes in almost all public schools started on Monday, the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) also staged a massive transport strike but failed since most jeepney drivers, particularly in the provinces, did not participate.
In Tarlac, drivers and operators of 3M, the city’s main jeepney transportation, said they opted to ply their usual routes to meet their families’ needs.
“We will just wait for the final talks and the decision of many of us. It’s our loss if we stop a day’s trip [to join the strike],” a driver who declined to be identified said in Filipino.
The strike served as the third attempt to oppose the Land Transportation Office’s modernization plan by phasing out public utility vehicles that are 15 years and older under the Traffic Crises Act of 2016.
In Meycauayan, Bulacan, the Cooperation of Brotherhood Transport Services and Drivers Association Inc. (CODA) shied away from the strike.
Jeepney driver Jerry Santos, a member of CODA, told The Manila Times that their group is an affiliate member of Piston but they choose not to join the nationwide strike.
Besides, Santos said, they did not want to be interviewed by members of the media.
Romulo Bumatay, a traffic enforcer assigned along Meycauayan highway, said, “On television, they say that Bulacan is part of the planned strike but we are not affected here. The public transport vehicles are plying their route smoothly, especially that it is the first day of classes.”
Ramonito, a member of Marsatoda jeepney drivers group in Marilao, Bulacan, said they did not join the strike upon decision of their association’s president, saying they should not be involved since the phaseout of old jeepneys is applicable only to those in Metro Manila.
But while they did not join the strike, their group is against the phaseout plan, saying it will greatly affect their income considering their financial status.
Similarly, jeepney drivers in Cavite opted to do their usual grind in the wake of Piston’s call to strike.
They said they could not afford to miss a day’s earnings, especially that they have children to feed and send to school.
There was also no reported transport strike in Laguna and Quezon provinces.
A transport group in Bacolod City that led the strike in the city called off their protest action at 1 p.m. on Monday after Bacolod Lone District Rep. Greg Gasataya assured them that he will raise their concerns before Congress.
Diego Malacad, secretary general of the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (Undoc), met with Gasataya at the latter’s office and submitted their position paper and concerns over the implementation of the transport modernization act.
Unlike in previous transport strikes where other transport groups joined Undoc, this time the Federation of Bacolod City Drivers Associations (Febacda) and Sentrong Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Negros (Sstone) did not participate.
The city government as well as the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board have prepared contingency measures if the strike will affect commuters.
Meanwhile, Cynthia Demavivas, Bacolod schools division superintendent, reported an 80-90 percent students’ attendance during the opening of classes after the failed strike for lack of support from transport groups.
with EUGENE Y. ADIONG, JERICA SANTOS, JEMIE MANGALINO AND ALYSSA JOY CAMERINO