By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) will deploy security personnel for a peaceful conduct of the three-day transport strike in the city starting today.
BCPO director Colonel Noel Aliño has directed police commanders to coordinate with local transport groups participating in the transport strike, BCPO spokesperson, Lt. Colonel Ronnie Brillo, said in a radio interview over the weekend.
Brillo assured transport operators joining the strike that their rights would be respected, and appealed to them not to stir any trouble against other transport groups who decided to continue operating.
He said the BCPO will deploy their vehicles as an alternative transportation for stranded commuters during the strike.
Over the weekend, the Sentrong Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Negros (SSTONE) and the Federation of Bacolod City Drivers Association have announced that they will not participate in the transport strike.
SSTONE president Albert Villanueva said it would be impossible for the strike to paralyze the city’s transportation grid as modernized public utility vehicles (PUVs) will continue to operate.
However, Villanueva respects the decision of the other transport groups to join the strike.
On Friday, November 17, Bacolod Alliance for Commuters, Operators and Drivers Inc. president Rudy Catedral said they will participate in the nationwide transport strike to protest against the government’s PUV modernization program.
Catedral believes that the transport strike will not significantly affect the riding public as some drivers of modernized jeepneys and PUVs would continue operating rather than participate in the strike.
Earlier, the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) announced that they will hold a transport strike starting today until Wednesday, November 22.
Teofilo Guadiz III, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairperson, reached out to PISTON national president Mody Floranda to come up with a compromise for the commuters’ sake.
He also warned jeepney operators to have their franchises revoked if they join the strike.
The Department of Transportation had earlier set a deadline on December 31 of this year, for transport groups to comply with the guidelines of the PUV modernization program.
Under the program, old jeepneys will be replaced with modernized vehicles compliant with Euro 4 engines as part of efforts to reduce air pollution.
For their part, PUV drivers and operators complained about replacing their vehicles with Euro 4 compliant ones as the cost could reach at least P2 million for only one unit.
The government set a June 30 deadline for the PUV modernization program, but it was later extended following a transport strike in March of this year./DGB, WDJ