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Manibela prepares for 3-day strike amid ongoing PISTON 'tigil-pasada'

MANILA, Philippines — Another transport group is planning for a strike in protest of the upcoming phase-out of traditional jeepneys, aligning with the December 31 deadline requiring their consolidation into cooperatives.

MANIBELA president Mar Valbuena announced the November 22 to 24 nationwide transport strike on Tuesday, a day after progressive transport group PISTON started its three-day "welga."

"On a nationwide scale, we have been planning this transport strike for two weeks alongside our brothers in PISTON," said Valbuena in Filipino.

"This will not only be MANIBELA, this will not only be PISTON, we will be linking up with other groups. It just so happened that our allies... started with a different schedule."

Valbuena said that some of their allies actually joined PISTON's Monday strike since they were already ready to join forces.

The groups said that the December 31 deadline will "automatically take away the livelihood of drivers and operators." 

Operators of traditional jeepneys who fail to give up their individual franchises in favor or consolidation will reportedly be ordered to stop their operations under the PUV modernization program (PUVMP).

"Some of our colleagues lost their jobs when they surrendered their franchises and modernized," the MANIBELA official claimed.

"Some of those [who have modernized] had their franchises stolen without them knowing... Why is the [Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board] allowing this?"

As part of the Department of Transportation's (DOTr) PUV modernization program, there's a push to transition traditional jeepneys towards more environmentally friendly options such as minibuses and electric vehicles.

However, transport groups argued that the said vehicles are too expensive, with units reaching up to P2 million each.

The DOTr on Tuesday said that they have already reached out to transport groups to clarify "misconceptions" that there will be a phase out of traditional jeeps and highlighted the availability of financial assistance for transport cooperatives.

Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista tried to "correct" talks about a possible phase out, despite LTFRB chairperson Teofilo Guadiz