TRANSPORT groups Manibela and Piston have resumed their operations and shortened their supposed one-week strike following a dialogue with Malacañang officials Tuesday night, March 7, 2023.

Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena and Piston national president Mody Florida met with Malacañang officials, including former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman now Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil, and aired their sentiments in relation to the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) modernization program, which is the root of their supposed week-long strike.

In a statement, the PCO said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has ordered the transportation department and the LTFRB to refurbish the provisions of the modernization program, which aims to replace old and traditional jeepneys with high-quality and environment-friendly vehicles with bigger capacity.

Drivers should also join a corporation or a cooperative for the approval of their provisional authority (PA) for franchise. They were given until December 31 for consolidation.

“Ito ay upang siguruhin na naisaalang-alang ang bawat aspeto ng implementasyon ng programa, kabilang ang pagdinig sa mga hinaing ng ating mga driver at operator,” the PCO said.

(This is to ensure that every aspect of program implementation is considered, including hearing the grievances of our drivers and operators.)

“Ayon na rin sa direktiba ng Pangulo, magsasagawa ang DOTr at ang LTFRB ng malalim at malawakang konsultasyon upang tiyakin na mas maging maayos ang pagpapatupad ng PUVMP at mabigyang-diin na ang sentro ng programang ito ay ang ating mga driver, operator, at lalong lalo na ang ating mga komyuter,” it added.

(Also according to the President’s directive, the DOTr and LTFRB will conduct a deep and extensive consultation to ensure that the implementation of the PUVMP goes smoothly and to emphasize that the center of this program is our drivers, operators, and commuters.)

The PCO said the administration and the transport groups shared the same goal of providing proper, comfortable, safe and efficient transportation to the riding public.

In a video message following their discussion, Valbuena reiterated that they are not against the PUV modernization program but it should be implemented in ways where “no one will be left behind, humane and reasonable.”

He said they will hold on to the words of the President that the administration will further study its provisions to ensure the livelihood of the drivers.

Valbuena apologized to the passengers affected by their strike since Monday, March 6. (SunStar Philippines)