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MANILA, Philippines – Transport group Manibela held a nationwide strike on Monday, October 16, amid alleged corruption in regulatory agencies and the unjust transition to modern jeepneys. The bigger transport groups, however, are sitting this one out.
The so-called “Magnificent 7” or Pasang Masda, Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide, Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, Stop and Go Transport Coalition, and Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas are skipping the strike and protests.
Manibela claims that the strike will hit some 600 routes in Luzon, with 150 jeepneys affected per route. But with the bigger transport groups out of the picture, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. doubts that the strike will have significant impact.
“I’m very sure there will be no paralysis of traffic,” Abalos said in a press briefing on Sunday, October 15.
Still, Manibela’s transport strike has already caused disruptions. Some schools opted to shift classes online, while some local government units suspended face-to-face classes at various levels.
“Kahit na sinasabi nilang maliit lang kami o 5% lang daw, kita naman ang aming epekto. Humihingi po kami ng paumanhin sa mga mananakay, may ipinaglalaban lang po kami,” Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said on Monday.
(They say we’re a small group or just comprise 5% of the total, but our impact is felt. We apologize to the public, we are just fighting for what’s right)
The transport strike comes after Valbuena and Jeff Tumbado, a former official of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), accused LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III of accepting tens of millions in bribes for the quick approval of special permits, franchises, and modifications of routes. They also said that money from the “lagayan (bribery) scheme” reached the pockets of those in the Department of Transportation and even the Office of the President.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista denied accepting “any money or favor.”
Though the scandal led to the suspension of Guadiz, the supposed whistleblower has now taken back what he said, saying his accusations were a case of “irrational thinking” and “poor decision-making.” –Rappler.com