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Governmentt Ready For Today's Transport Strike

The Light and Metro Rail Transits (LRT-MRT) are ready to accommodate commuters who may get stranded by the transport strike called by militant public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators on Thursday.

LRT Authority and MRT Spokesman Hernando Cabrera said LRT Lines 1 and 2, and MRT Line 3 expect peak ridership on Thursday as a number of PUVs join the national day of protest called by militant transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operaytors Nationwide (Piston).

However, other transport groups refused to heed Piston's call.

The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap) said its members won't join Piston's demonstration as long as the government pursues the plan to give one-month fuel subsidy for PUVs.

Although the provisional fuel subsidy was already discussed in the Cabinet, the President has yet to decide on the proposal to grant legitimate franchise holders a fuel discount of P3 per liter for a month, beginning the second week of April.

MalacaƱang said the entire fuel subsidy is expected to cost P600 million and that funding for the program could be sourced out from the President's contingency fund, or a windfall from value-added tax (VAT) collections on oil.

Aside from Fejodap, the Association of Concerned Transport Operators, Pasang Masda, and the South Luzon Bus Operators Association are not joining the transport protest.

But Piston said some 500 transport leaders, operators, and drivers will join its transport caravan from Quezon City Memorial Circle to Mendiola, Manila. Organizers said at least 200 jeepneys, buses, express service vans, and taxicabs are expected to join the caravan to demonstrate their grievances against the unabated oil price hikes.

With the planned transport caravan, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) advised motorists to avoid areas around the Quezon City Memorial Circle and take alternative routes.

In its traffic advisory, the MMDA listed alternative routes that motorists may take.

From Quezon City Memorial Circle, motorists may turn right to North Avenue, straight to EDSA, take the U-turn slot at SM North, turn right to West Avenue, turn right to Del Monte, left turn to Araneta Avenue, turn right to Ma. Clara Street, straight to Andalucia Street to their destinations.

For East-bound motorists from Recto, they may take Sergio Loyola Street, straight to Matimyas Street, right turn to E. Rodriguez Avenue, left turn to Banawe Street or go straight to Araneta Avenue then straight to EDSA to their destinations.

Should the transport protest paralyze major commuting routes, Cabrera said commuters along Taft Avenue and Avenida in Manila to Caloocan, Aurora Boulevard from Manila to Quezon City and Epifanio delos Santos Avenue may rely on the LRT and MRT.

Cabrera assured the public that there will be enough trips for regular and casual LRT and MRT riders and that overcrowding will be minimized because of the decrease of passengers due to the students' summer break.

Likewise, the Philippine Coast Guard said that it will deploy 6x6 trucks to ferry stranded passengers.

Lieutenant Commander Armando Balilo, Coast Guard public affairs chief and deputy chief of staff for community relations services, said that upon request by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), they will deploy their two 6x6 trucks in various strategic locations in Metro Manila just in case many commuters will be stranded.