Classes suspended, thousands stranded as jeepneys strike

Inquirer News Service, The Philippines Daily Inquirer, 21 July 2003, 9:56 PM (Manila Time)

IT WAS an unexpected holiday for many students in Manila after a metro-wide jeepney strike forced many schools to suspend classes Monday.

School authorities in Manila suspended classes at around 10 a.m. as students and teachers were among thousands of commuters stranded when members of at least five major jeepney organizations in Metro Manila refused to ply their routes starting 6 a.m.

The Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) said the strike was a success.

Most affected by the strike were Manila, Makati, Marikina City, San Juan, Rizal and Quezon City, where as much as 90 percent of the jeepney transport system was reportedly paralyzed.

Many drivers who tried to ply their routes were jeered and stopped by other drivers in San Juan, Cubao in Quezon City, and C.M. Recto and Dapitan Streets in Manila.

The cities of Pasig and Mandaluyong were however not as affected, according to the Eastern Police District Traffic Group.

Most of the drivers with routes within the Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela areas also did not join the strike.

However, about 75 percent of the jeepneys that plied the Monumento-Manila route joined the tigil-pasada, said Senior Inspector Jojo de Guzman, detachment commander of the Bonifacio Monument Circle.

Most of the striking drivers returned to their routes at around 4 p.m.

Manila Division of City Schools superintendent Dr. Luisa Quiñones told principals of elementary and high schools to decide whether to suspend classes or not, according to assistant superintendent Isabelita de Jesus

San Beda College and the Centro Escolar University, both in Mendiola St., Manila, also suspended their classes.

To address the situation, the governments of Manila and Marikina, as well as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, deployed vehicles to ferry stranded passengers.

The Manila Department of Public Services and City Engineer's Office sent out trucks and vans which gave free rides along España, Taft, and Magsaysay avenues.

Marikina information officer Carmelita Lorenzo said the city's buses ferried passengers to the Light Rail Transit station in Santolan, Pasig, or to Cubao.

The strike has effectively shut down 80 percent of the public transportation system (in Marikina), Superintendent Romeo Abaring, city deputy chief of police, said.

If the strike had any good effect, it was the easing of traffic in the areas where the strike was most felt, according to MMDA-Traffic Operations Center director Angelito Vergel de Dios.

We prepared for the worst, he said, adding that the MMDA called up all bus operators in Metro Manila to put their bus reserves on alert.

Transport groups led by the Philippine Confederation of Drivers and Operators-Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations said they would go back on strike after three weeks if their concerns were not addressed.

Among their concerns are the high registration fees, the insistence of mayors to issue their own traffic tickets and the planned phaseout of jeepneys.