No strike for jeepney drivers in Baguio City, Benguet

BAGUIO CITY — It was business as usual for public utility jeepney (PUJ) operators and drivers in Baguio and Benguet as they opted not to join the nationwide transport strike on Monday.
Pat Evangelista, president of the United Metro Baguio Benguet Transport Operators and Drivers Federation, Inc. (UMBBTO) in a text message sent to media early Monday said, “we are not joining the jeepney strike today (Monday)”.
The group is composed of two major jeepney associations- Federation of jeepney operators and drivers’ association in Baguio, Benguet and La Union (FEJODABBLU) and the UMBBTO.
They have 35 associations serving Baguio, Benguet and La Union operators and drivers.
While they have the same battle cry along with transport groups in other areas in the country, the group did not join the nationwide strike for three reasons.
First, it will be the commuters who will be at the losing end as a strike will make it hard for them to reach their destinations. Also, the drivers and operators won’t earn anything for the day.
He mentioned two major associations whose vehicles operate only every other day, which will mean two days of no income for some of the members .
Lastly, they believe that the road is not the proper venue.
“We have filed before the Supreme Court a petition for an injunction on the implementation of the jeepney modernization aside from the initiative at the Senate to revise the modernization program.
We are hopeful that the legal means we are doing will be acted upon prior to the June 2020 implementation, ” Evangelista said.
He clarified that while they are not joining the nationwide strike, they gave the decision to the individual franchise owners if they will go on strike or not.
“Franchise naman nila ang apektado kaya nasa sa kanila ang desisyon,” he said.
He said they are not completely against the proposed jeepney modernization program.
Evangelista mentioned that they object to the consolidation system proposed and the cost of the modern units which will be too expensive for them.
He also said in Baguio and Benguet, PUJs are in a much better condition compared to those in other areas.
“The roadside inspection and monitoring of vehicles here is strictly implemented,” he said.
Another group connected to the Pinagkaisahang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) conducted a peaceful protest at the regional Land Transportation Office (LTO).
The Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) also issued an advisory lifting the number coding for all public utility vehicles with plate numbers ending 1 and 2, as a back-up plan allowing them to provide transportation service in case PUJs opt to stop their operation.
Various police vehicles have been deployed all over the city providing free transport services to the public.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong had suspended the classes from pre-school to elementary to spare pupils of the possibility of walking to and from their houses to school. **PNA

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