by Julius Mariveles and Mira Nicole Magbanua
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The leader of an activist transport federation threatened noontime today to hold another transport strike starting midnight tonight, 22 November 2022, if the demands outlined in a position paper are not met.
But less than six hours after, Diego Malacad’s threats seem to have fizzled out as other transport leaders said they are not joining any welga.
Malacad said he had alrady informed the local business chamber, the Roman Catholic Church’s Social Action Center and local colleges and universities that they will go in strike starting midnight tonight, 22 November 2022.
Malacad heads both the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC) and the local chapter of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON).
Neither the two groups nor Malacad are signatories to the position paper submitted by 21 old jeepney operators associations, claiming to own a total of more than 3,000 old jeepneys, to sitting Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez.
Before dusk, however, officials of two major jeepney federations shot down Malacad’s threat, saying they will wait for the action of Benitez.
“He did not even attend the meetung with Mayor Albee,” Elizabeth Katalbas told DNX when sought for comment on the threat of Malacad.
Katalbas, who heads the Federation of Bacolod City Drivers Associations, said they will wait for the actions that Benitez will take after they submitted their position paper.
Eduardo Asis echoed the stand of Katalbas and pointed out that eight out of 10 old jeepneys plying the streets here belong to their members under the Sentrong Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators sa Negros (SSTON), a splinter group of the militant United Negros Drivers and Operators Center that Malacad now heads.
Benitez, on the other hand, has brokered solutions eith the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, both national regulatory agencies.
He assured operators there will be no crackdowns by both agencies until mid December this year but also urged them to register with LTO and avail of special permits for interim arrangements with modern jeepneys.
Lawyer Salvador Altura Jr.,on his part, said they are expecting half of the 1,099 authorized modern jeepneys to be in operation by end of December, this year.
Complete delivery of all authorized units is expected by 2023 March, which means up to that period, some old jeeoneys can operate on an interim arrangement to fill in for modern jeepneys that have yet to ply their routes.