MPD firm to snub transport strike program pleas

FEU Advocate
January 17, 2024 16:43

By Mark Vincent A. Durano

Manila Police District (MPD) refused to plead the multiple negotiations of transport strike protesters to move the police barricade for their program after a blockage at España Boulevard in Manila last January 16.

The barrier foiled the mobilization opposing the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) to troop from Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City to Mendiola Street in Manila.

Police patrols halted the march jamming the southbound lane of España Boulevard.

Despite the initial response, Samahang Manibela Mananakay at nagkaisang Terminal ng Transportasyon national president Mar Valbuena bidded to move the barricade for at least 100 meters to cater the enlarging crowd.

Paki-usap ko lang talaga makapag-abante lang kami nang ko’nti para ‘yung mga kasama naman natin doon [back] ay marinig ‘yung mga sinasabi natin (My request is just that we could move forward even slightly so that our fellows could hear what we are saying),” he said.

Officials permitted the protesters 30 minutes to road access before being dispersed. 

Valbuena negotiated with Mendiola Police Community Precinct Captain Rolly Magusib for an alternative route towards Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila.

Officials declined the request and swayed the demonstrators to stage their program in a road fraction, occupied until the corner of Macaraig Street in Manila instead.

Prior to the march, a protest caravan also took place that started at University of the Philippines in Quezon City and ended at Welcome Rotonda.

Valbuena said that provincial checkpoints stalled and barred jeepneys from Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Laguna to enter the National Capital Region and join the caravan.

The continuous disapproval prompted the jeepney drivers, operators, and commuters to conduct the program refusing to leave the area.

Over time, more police from MPD and the presence of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Fire Rescue Unit were added.

Moreover, various multi-sectoral speakers included their dismay at MDP's action in their speeches.

Kayong mga pulis, ‘pag may pamilya kayo at ‘yung mga anak n’yo pati ‘yung mga pamilya n’yo ay magugutom pag January 31 … Hindi ba kayo matatakot? Hindi ba kayo mag-aalsa? Hindi ba kayo magrereklamo? (You policemen, if you have a family and your children as well as your family will starve after January 31 … Will you not be scared? Will you not revolt? Will you not complain?),” BAYAN national president Renato Reyes Jr. assailed.

The protesters continued their appeal to junk the PUVMP, following the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) extension for the consolidation deadline until January 31.

Under LTFRB’s Memorandum Circular No. 2023-052, unconsolidated jeepneys are still allowed to ply on selected routes but will be illegalized and tagged as colorum starting February 1.

The protesters remained in the area up until past midnight of January 17.

Spearheaded by Manibela and Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide, jeepney drivers, operators, and multi-sectoral progressive groups from all over Metro Manila and nearby provinces joined the nationwide transport strike.

(Photo by FEU Advocate/Ralph Mari Castro)