Allows online learning and use of modules amid transport strike threat
The Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday said it will not suspend classes during a planned week-long transport strike next week.
DepEd spokesman Michael Poa said students who are unable to attend face-to-face classes during the strike “should be able to continue learning through alternative delivery modes,” including online classes and modules.
This developed as Malacanang downplayed the impact of the planned strike, as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) reported that only about 6 percent of the public utility vehicles (PUVs) nationwide are expected to join the protest.
A number of schools have announced that they are temporarily shifting to online learning for most of the duration of the transport strike, which is expected to run from March 6 to 12.
About 40,000 jeepney and UV Express drivers, under the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, Manibela, and Piston, are reportedly expected to join the strike to protest the planned phaseout of traditional jeepneys in favor of modern electric vehicles.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the government has prepared several contingencies to help commuters who will be affected by the disturbance, despite the LTFRB’s assurance that 94 percent of jeepney drivers are not joining the transport group strike.
During the inter-agency meeting presided over by Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Hubert Guevarra on Friday, various government agencies came out with contingencies to mitigate the effects of the strike.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and local government units also said they are prepared for next week’s transport strike.
On Wednesday, Mr. Marcos said that the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) – which the jeepney groups are protesting — is necessary, but its implementation needs more detailed discussions among its stakeholders.
The President also said that while he sees the need to modernize public utility vehicles, the proper program implementation is necessary.
Among the efforts of the government are the deployment of Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel to monitor the situation on the ground and to maintain peace and order in the affected areas and routes.
The PNP has also been instructed to mobilize its regional assets to assist those who will be affected by the transport strike, deploying at least 41 transport vehicles to ferry commuters to their destinations.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines will also be mobilizing 106 of its transport vehicles to help commuters which will be affected heavily by the strike.
MMDA spokesperson Melissa Carunungan said contingency measures will be in place to ensure that the commuting public will not be affected by the week-long protest.
She said MMDA Chairman Romando Artes has asked the local governments in Metro Manila for an inventory of assets that can be used to provide free rides to commuters during the strike.
The MMDA was also in close coordination with Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) officials so they could provide assistance to commuters.
Ready for deployment are at least 20 MMDA vehicles, including 11 commuter vans, six buses, and three military trucks.
The agency’s Metrobase will monitor through closed circuit television (CCTVs) cameras major roads in Metro Manila that will be affected by the transport strike so that “Libreng Sakay” vehicles can quickly be deployed where they are needed.
The MMDA will also deploy traffic personnel and Road Emergency Group members in various parts of the National Capital Region to assist motorists and commuters who are affected by the transport strike.
“We are ready, but we will not deploy our assets right away unless there is a shortage of rides in these areas,” Carunungan said in Filipino.
Artes said his agency is considering suspending the number coding scheme in Metro Manila during the strike.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered the city’s Traffic and Transport Management Department (TTMD) to place bus service units on standby for possible deployment to areas including Cubao, Commonwealth Avenue, Welcome Rotonda, Novaliches Bayan, LTFRB, East Avenue, Quezon Memorial Circle and Fairview.
“Even if some groups have already said that they will not join the strike, we in the city government decided to still prepare to assist our commuters,” Belmonte said in a press release issued Friday. Belmonte has also directed all villages through the Barangay and Community Relations Department (BCRD) to make use of their barangay vehicles if needed, to provide free rides in their respective areas of responsibility.
She has also asked the Quezon City Schools Division Office to conduct and implement asynchronous or online classes throughout the week and encouraged businesses to allow work-from-home arrangements for their employees if possible.
“This is doable given the tablets issued by the city government to public school students. Private schools can also implement online classes upon their discretion,” she said.
Belmonte added that locations of protest rallies of drivers and operators within the city will also be monitored.
Ghe Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said that they would also deploy personnel in critical areas to maintain order in the communities and guarantee the safety of the riding public, especially of PUV drivers who decided not to participate in the strike.
Several transport groups said they are pushing through with their planned week-long transport strike to protest the national government’s PUV Modernization Program despite the extension of the proposed deadline for their consolidation.
Initially, PUV operators were given until June 30, 2023, to form into cooperatives, but the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board on Wednesday extended the deadline to Dec. 31, 2023.
Navotas Mayor Rey Tiangco said the vehicles of the city government and 18 barangays are ready to provide free rides.
Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. said his city will also deploy free bus rides during the strike.