Jeepney drivers protest rally cripples Cebu City



March 17, 2009




Photos courtesy of NADSU-PISTON


Drivers' rally leaves thousands stranded
By Ferliza C. Contratista and Aj De La Torre Updated March 17, 2009 12:00 AM


The scarcity of public utility jeepneys due to the drivers’ protest actions leaves thousands of commuters stranded along the major routes in Metro Cebu yesterday. REYNAN VILLENA

CEBU, Philippines - Drivers, who took part in yesterday’s protest action against the increase in fines on traffic violations, face sanctions as thousands of commuters were stranded despite the announcement that there was no transport strike.

Commuters from the cities of Cebu, Talisay and Mandaue and those from nearby municipalities were affected by the drivers’ protest as several joined the march from Fuente Osmeña while others decided not to ply their routes.

An irked Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to take drastic action, possibly to revoke the franchises of those jeepneys where the routes were crippled.

As early as 8 a.m., members of the militant transport group Nagkahiusang Drivers sa Sugbo (NADSU) led by secretary general Ruben Rama, claimed to have gathered more than 1,000 drivers and operators in a protest march from the Fuente Osmeña to the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

NADSU is a regional organization of the Pinagkakaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON).

“Dili pa ni strike, rally lang ni, protesta ba, pero di mi magduha duha rong Byernes,” Rama said.

The drivers gave their position paper to LTO Regional Director Raul Aguilos and also aired their concerns regarding the newly implemented Department Order No.2008-39, which has increased the traffic fines.

Eduardo Geolin, NADSU Council member said they have nothing against paying of fines or suspension of licenses, but what they are against is the high amount of the fines.
Geolin also questioned Aguilos on the implementation of the order without consulting the operators or transport organizations.

However, Director Aguilos said that the implementation of the new fines has helped a lot because since the implementation of the order last March 2, fewer drivers have violated the rules.

Aguilos said to the operators that they will still continue to implement the order, but they will be sending the position paper that they have received from the operators to the central office in Manila.

He asked the drivers to stop the rally and continue their daily operations since it is affecting the public.

Rama, after the dialogue, said they were not happy with the answers of Aguilos.
He said that they will be going back to the office of LTO on Friday to check on the progress but if until then they would still get no answers, then they will meet with their different groups to decide on a transport strike.

At the City Hall meanwhile, an angry Osmeña called on officials of LTFRB for explanations and actions on the disturbance.

LTFRB regional information officer Atty. Eugenio Ibo received a tongue lashing from the Mayor challenging the agency to make drastic actions against the drivers who support the so called protest.

Osmeña said they had submitted a list of public utility vehicles franchises which participated in the previous strikes, but the LTFRB has not acted on it.
Osmeña said he is in favor of increasing the fines since lowering them will make the drivers more abusive.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo of the City Disaster and Coordinating Council (CDCC) said they were able to deploy 10 buses and six other vehicles to assist stranded commuters.
LTFRB regional director Atty. Romulo Bernardes said his men noted down 13 jeepneys being used in the protest, which will be held for possible out of line violations.
Out of line violation is committed when a public utility vehicle is not traveling within the designated area stated in his franchise.

These jeepneys were from the north-bound routes 21B, 23, 24 and 29.
Bernardes said the drivers and operators of these jeepneys will be summoned today by LTFRB assistant regional director Atty. Douglas Sanson.

Bernardes said they will be fined P1,500 for first offense, ,then will be suspended or finally franchises revoked after final deliberation with the board en banc.

He said the jeepney drivers and operators never filed any Notice of Strike with their agency especially after the decrease of fare by 50 centavos last week.

Bernardes also denied not doing anything with the information given by the city saying that City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM) head Arnel Tancinco is very much informed of their actions.
He said LTFRB will be ready should there be a real strike this Friday.

Cebu City Police Director Sr. Supt. Patrocinio Comendador said that they have deployed escort policemen for the buses that were deployed to ferry stranded passengers.

The police received reports that there were some PUJ drivers that had been harassed by groups of people who joined the rally.

Comendador said that there were however no arrests made.
Transportation was estimated to be paralyzed by 60 percent in the Bulacao and Pardo routes. — With Christopher Gabriel Bonjoc and Niña Chrismae G. Sumacot/NLQ (THE FREEMAN)



Drivers' protest rally cripples work, school
Updated March 17, 2009 12:00 AM


CEBU, Philippines - Schools and government offices were forced to suspend operations yesterday afternoon owing to the protest action staged by drivers of public utility jeepneys.

At the courts, Regional Trial Court Executive judge Meinrado Paredes ordered suspension of work by virtue of Circular 110 of the Office of the Court Administrator, which allows executive judges to suspend work in the afternoon for reason of a transport strike.

The prosecutor’s office, likewise, suspended work but continued conducting inquest proceedings until 3pm.

At the City Hall, Mayor Tomas Osmeña provided Kaohsiong Buses to city government employees living in far destinations in the north and south portions of the city.

Several schools also suspended classes.

The provincial government chose to continue operations but provided buses for employees of Capitol at the end of the day.

Drivers went on a protest rally yesterday to oppose the implementation of an Administrative Order of the Department of Transportation and Communication that increased the penalties for traffic violations.

Land Transportation Office Regional Director Raul Aguilus said he understands the drivers’ position but he could not do anything about it, as he was just implementing the order from Manila.
Aguilus said he is willing to help the drivers but the most that he could do is to condone the violations committed prior to March 2. This means, violations committed prior to March 2 will not be included in the computation of the new rate of penalties. — Fred P. Languido, Ferliza C. Contratista, and Johanna T. Natavio/JMO (THE FREEMAN)

Commuters in 2 cities affected

APART from Cebu City passengers, hundreds of Cebu City-bound commuters got stranded because of the unannounced transport strike in Talisay City yesterday.

Tabunok Barangay Captain Manuel Cabriana had to deploy the barangay-owned mini-bus to ferry the stranded students, office workers, salesclerks and market vendors.

Panagbenga 2009 blog

The number of stranded passengers rose when most of the Tabunok passenger utility jeepneys (PUJ) refused to ply their routes during the peak hours in the morning.
Long wait

These commuters stayed for an hour beneath the flyover in Tabunok and outside the Gaisano Grand Fiesta Mall.

The stretch on the Bulacao highway was also crowded with stranded passengers waiting for a ride.

The lack of Tabunok-based PUJs prompted others to cling to the rear exit of slow-moving multicabs that came from Cebu’s southern towns.

Vegetable vendor Mina Galupo, 49, of Barangay Manipis, Talisay City, had to wait for more than hour before she was able to ride in a PUJ.

With a sack of vegetables on hand, she competed with other passengers that scampered for available seats on a newly arrived PUJ beneath the overpass bridge.

Authorities noticed that some drivers opted to stop plying their routes as their fellow drivers would flag them down in Bulacao calling for their support.

The drivers joined the protest due to the “exorbitant” traffic fines and penalties recently imposed by the Land Transportation Office.

Lawyer Manuel Iway, a former Land Transporation Franchising and Regulatory Board director, said he supports the drivers, saying the new rates are excessive and that the LTO does not have the authority to amend the old rates that were set by Congress under Republic Act 3146 without a public hearing.

The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) was similarly caught off guard by the strike staged by the transport group yesterday.

But as in the cities of Talisay, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, no untoward incidents were reported in Cebu City during the strike yesterday.

CCPO Director Patrocinio Comendador said that as of Sunday, a team of crowd dispersal management was on standby in anticipation of the transport group’s rally.

As of noon time, Comendador said, about 60 percent of the transportation in the city was crippled.
A command center was put up at the Cebu City Hall, while police officers were also deployed to escort the Kaohsiung buses and other vehicles fielded by the city government to ferry the commuters.

He ordered the police operatives to arrest the drivers or sympathizers who were caught harassing the non-striking drivers.

For his part, Chief Insp. Jovito Canlapan, Talisay City Police Station deputy chief, said they had not monitored any untoward incident during the transport strike.

Although they had buses on standby, Mandaue City was not affected by the strike, said Jomar Ostia executive director of

Mandaue City Traffic Management Board.

In Lapu-Lapu City, PUJs were also plying their routes, said PO2 Jude Marifosque. (GC/JTG/OCP/ AIV)