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Transport strike in Metro Manila unsuccessful, says MMDA

MANILA, Philippines (PNA) — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Monday said that the transport strike staged by militant transport groups against the continuous oil price hike failed to paralyze the public transportation.

According to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino the protest action staged by the Pinag-Isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (Piston) failed to paralyze transportation in Metro Manila, as there are more jeepney which did not join the action and continue to ply their routes.

“The strike was unsuccessful in Metro Manila, having minimal impact on the lives of its citizens,” said Tolentino, who noted that classes in 17 local government units comprising the metropolis pushed through, except in Marikina City.

The MMDA chief, conducting aerial inspection around Metro Manila, saw some groups of protesters at Welcome Rotonda (boundary of Quezon City and Manila), Philcoa and Cubao in Quezon City and Marikina trying to convince other jeepney drivers to join the strike. A group of protesters were also reported along EDSA-Guadalupe and Monumento areas.

On the day of the Piston strike, small groups converged at Aurora Boulevard in Cubao, the Alabang Viaduct, Commonwealth Avenue, Espana corner M. dela Fuente, Monumento and Guadalupe, and, aside from Piston, students, members of Bayan and Gabriela took part. None of the convergence points developed into a critical mass, Tolentino said.

He said that despite the setting up of picket lines, jeepneys continued to ply their usual routes around Metro Manila while some commuters affected were also fetched by buses and trucks deployed by the MMDA, the police, and local government units.

He also reported that the MMDA has not received reports of stranded commuters around Metro Manila.

In a related development, President Benigno Aquino III directed Tolentino to head and act as the President’s personal representative to the inter-agency Presidential Task Force on Transport Strike and Mass Action (TRASMA), which takes charge of government actions and responses on transport strikes and similar incidents.

Under Memorandum Circular No. 18, dated September 14, 2011, named Task Force TRASMA members are the Secretaries of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Trade and Industry (DTI).

It also includes the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) Assistant Secretary and the Commissioner on Higher Education (CHED).

Task Force TRASMA’s authority includes provision of alternative transportation, logistical support, maintenance of peace and order, security to non-participating transport groups/individuals and apprehension and filing of charges for violation of applicable laws, rules and regulations relative to the conduct of transport strikes.

The MMDA was tasked to immediately convene the Task Force to work on detailed actions and contingency plans to address issues and concerns in the event of a transport strike in Metro Manila. The issuance was signed in time for the just-concluded PISTON-led mass transport strike.

Even ahead of the Memo Circular, however, the MMDA Chief had already been presiding over inter-agency meetings with the Philippine National Police–National Capital Region Command (PNP-NCRCom), the AFP, the DOTC, the LTFRB and the DepEd to prepare for the Piston strike contingencies.