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Transport group Manibela to stage October 16 jeepney strike

Lance Spencer Yu

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Transport group Manibela to stage October 16 jeepney strike

JEEPNEY. Passenger jeepneys in Bacoor, Cavite return on the road on the second day of the week-long strike on March 7, 2023.

Dennis Abrina/Rappler

Manibela claims Monday’s strike will hit about 600 routes across Luzon. But the country’s largest transport groups have all agreed not to participate in the strike.

MANILA, Philippines – Transport group Manibela intends to push through with its planned jeepney strike on Monday, October 16 in protest of what it calls the “phasing out” of jeepneys, along with alleged corruption in the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). 

Tuloy po ang strike sa Lunes hanggat hindi nasu-suspende ang mga sangkot dito at hindi nasu-suspende ang implementasyon ng korap na programa ng modernization!” the transport group wrote in a Facebook post on Friday, October 13.

(The strike will continue on Monday until those involved are suspended and the corrupt modernization program implementation is suspended!)

In a press conference last October 9, Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said his group would hold a noise barrage and stage protests in front of the LTFRB, Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Malcañang Palace.

Dadalhin natin mga sasakyan natin sa harapan ng LTFRB main, sa harapan ng DOTr, hanggang Malcañang. Doon na natin ibubusina ‘to. Doon na natin itatambak ang ating mga sasakyan!” he said.

(We will bring our vehicles in front of the LTFRB main office, in front of the DOTr, all the way to Malacañang. That’s where we will honk our horns. That’s where we will pile up our vehicles!)

Valbuena told Rappler Monday’s strike will hit about 600 routes throughout Luzon, with 150 jeepneys affected per route. But not all jeepney operators will be joining. The “Magnificent 7” – a catch-all term for the country’s largest transport groups, including Pasang Masda and PISTON – have agreed with the government not to participate in the strike.

Still, the transport strike has already caused disruptions. Some schools opted to shift classes online. In anticipation of commuters being stranded, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority created a multi-agency command center to monitor the strike as it unfolds and to deploy libreng sakay vehicles in different local government units. 

Why is Manibela protesting?

The transport strike comes after Valbuena and a former LTFRB official, Jeff Tumbado, alleged that LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III accepted 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 scheme” reached the pockets of those in the DOTr and even the Office of the President.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista categorically denied accepting “any money or favor.” For its part, the LTFRB has yet to publicly address the corruption allegations or respond to questions from the media about it.

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.” 

But even with the withdrawal of Tumbado’s statements, the Manibela chairman said the strike will push through. Aside from the corruption allegations, the group is also protesting against the government’s December 31 deadline for traditional jeepneys to consolidate into a corporation or cooperative. (READ: As deadline looms, jeepney drivers must consolidate or retrain for another job)

Papayag ba tayo na ganun-ganun na lamang ito, na hanggang December 31 na lang tayo tapos sila nagpapakataba sa pera ng korapsyon?” Valbuena said on October 9.

(Are we going to allow this to continue, that they’re getting rich from corruption money while we only have until December 31 to operate?)

Manibela is also the group behind the jeepney transport strikes in March and July 2023. During both strikes, Valbuena protested the government’s implementation of the public utility vehicle modernization plan, which he and several other operators feared would phase out traditional jeepneys in favor of pricey modern jeepneys that they could not afford.  – Rappler.com

EXPLAINER: Why some transport groups support jeepney modernization

EXPLAINER: Why some transport groups support jeepney modernization

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.