MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Commuters were told to seek alternative means of transportation on Monday, February 27, as jeepney operators are set to hold a strike in Metro Manila and select provinces to protest plans to phase out their old fleet.
In Metro Manila, jeepney drivers are expected to convene at the Monumento Circle at 6 am and then gather at the Quezon Memorial Circle around 11 am, before marching toward Mendiola, based on an advisory from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Jeepney operators led by the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) are asking the government to drop its plans for stricter regulation of jeepneys.
These plans include phasing out old jeepneys as well as requiring operators to have at least 10 jeepneys and a minimum capital of P7 million to keep their franchises.
PISTON said the new regulations will lead to the "corporate takeover" of public transport.
A similar transport strike earlier this month caused misery among commuters in the country's capital who have depended on the iconic mode of transportation, forcing some cities and schools to cancel classes.
For Monday, Malacañang has announced the suspension of preschool to high school classes in both public and private schools for Metro Manila. It later expanded its announcement to include "all affected areas nationwide," but has not yet specified what those places are.
On Twitter, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the government would provide free rides for commuters.
READ: JQRT composed of DOTr, LTFRB, and MMDA will provide Libreng Sakay tomorrow, 27 Feb., in line with the Transport Strike. #DOTr pic.twitter.com/WiPscDZnCe — DOTr (@DOTr_PH) February 26, 2017
The police also said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has met with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to address the issue.
In the Bicol region, police director Chief Superintendent Melvin Buenafe said the PNP regional command will assist commuters.
"We will mobilize all our available transport assets to assist the community in whatever way we can when needed. We're ready to help," Buenafe said.
Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara also said the provincial government will provide free transportation, specifically for passengers heading to and from Tiwi and Polangui, as well as for the Daraga-Legazpi route and vice versa.
Daraga Mayor Gerry Jaucian and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal have both ordered the suspension of preschool to high school classes in both public and private schools for Monday.
There will also be no classes for students of the Aquinas University of Legazpi, Bicol University, Saint Agnes Academy, Legazpi Hope Christian School, and Washington International School. – with reports from Rhaydz Barcia / Rappler.com