Xy Aldrae Murillo

Despite his confident statement, “I know that the state of the nation is sound and is improving,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivered his addressing speech without any mention of transportation issues, particularly the concerns that caused the transport strikes during his term.

Photo Courtesy of Jire Carreon/ABS-CBN News / EPA-EFE

During his 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA), he declared, "Nakakita po tayo ng magagandang resulta,” stating that the country is perceiving good results, and added, "We are still considered among the fastest growing economies in the Asian region, and in the world. It is a testament to our strong macroeconomic fundamentals.”

However, a recent survey from a Manila-based firm found that the majority of Filipinos consider inflation to be the most impactful problem affecting Marcos' overall performance, with it affecting all commodities and equipment that are needed in transportation vehicles.

With this, transport groups have conducted transportation strikes twice in Marcos' first year in office: one that started last March 6, 2023, initially as a week-long nationwide transport strike, and the other was simultaneous to the president’s SONA on July 24, 2023, as a three-day strike mainly around Metro Manila.

These strikes have generally rooted in the jeepney driver's disagreement with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)'s traditional jeepney phaseout, where traditional jeepneys will be replaced by modern jeepneys that cost around ₱2.4 million pesos per unit.

According to Manibela President Mar Valbuena, the LTFRB intends to eradicate traditional jeepneys because those that participated in the modernization program experience losses of about ₱200,000 each month.

“Kawawa talaga ang mga tao at marami pang naghihirap at mas lalo pang maghihirap ‘pag hindi makapasok sa trabaho,” he stated in an interview.

Instead of directly addressing the issue to mend the strike from conducting, Marcos responded by appealing to transport groups to reconsider their planned week-long strike, assuring them that the government’s modernization program for Public Utility Vehicles (PUV) will be further studied and modified.

During the three-day strike that started on July 24, Valbuena said that the LTFRB failed to address the issues of jeepney drivers despite frequent meetings with the agency.

“I often go to the LTFRB, but it fails to act on our concerns. It’s been five months we are talking to them but we did not get an answer or actions,” he said.

Hence, at least 40,000 jeepney drivers joined the strike in Metro Manila, and at least 200,000 nationwide.

"On matters of the economy, there are many things over which we don't have control. But over those where we do have control, we are doing everything we can,” Marcos added in his SONA.

Edited by Khezyll Galvan