Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Transport strike grips Central Luzon

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO- The Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator sa Pilipinas (STOP) Monday said it crippled public transportation services in four of seven Central Luzon provinces when its members stopped plying their routes to protest the 500-percent increase in toll rates at the expressway.

Tom Talavera, STOP spokesperson, said the strike paralyzed 90 percent of the routes in Pampanga, 95 percent in Bataan, 60 percent in Zambales and 50 percent in Tarlac.

Jeepneys and Tamaraw FX vans also stopped plying their routes along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), he said.

Some 4,000 tricycle drivers in Mariveles, Bataan, launched a sympathy strike, Talavera said.


Some 500 protesters, led by the Alyansa ng Mamamayan at Transport Sector Laban sa NLEx (Aklas), picketed the San Fernando gates of the NLEx from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Some 200 drivers who protested the 500-percent increase in rates at the 84-km highway, also marched from the University of Philippines-Diliman to the Toll Regulatory Board office in Quezon City to demand a rollback, Inquirer reports said.

A plan to file before the Supreme Court, a petition nullifying the contract of the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) to operate the NLEx for 30 years has been postponed, said Aurora Broquil, spokesperson of the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya.

Broquil said lawyers were still finalizing the complaint that would focus on the supposed transfer of franchise to the MNTC from the state-owned Philippine National Construction Corp.

Police version

Chief Supt. Rowland Albano, Central Luzon police director, however, said the transport strike was a flop since it failed to affect most parts of the region.

Albano said the province most affected was Bataan.

Bataan Gov. Enrique Garcia suspended work in government offices and classes at all levels throughout the province.

Members of the Kapisanan ng mga Sasakyan sa Bataan (Kasakbayan) led the Bataan strike.

But at the Bataan Economic Zone, only a few factories were affected by the transport strike since many companies sent vehicles to fetch their employees in Balanga City and Orion and Limay towns.

Stranded commuters got free rides in trucks and buses fielded by the police, he said.

In Pampanga, work at government offices was suspended at noon Monday due to the strike