By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
About 300 members of various transport groups in Valenzuela City staged a strike to protest against the No Contact Apprehension Program (NCAP) being fully implemented in the city since Monday.
The jeepney strike stranded thousands of commuters and Raynaldo Villanueva, president of the Valenzuela City Transport Alliance, vowed that they will continue the protest until Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian agrees to engage in a dialogue with them.
In a letter addressed to Gatchalian, the transport groups said there was no public hearing for the NCAP, where affected stakeholders could have shared their opinions on the city ordinance.
“Hindi dumaan sa tamang proseso ang nasabing Ordinansa (The said ordinance did not undergo a proper process),” the letter read.
“Walang pabatid hinggil sa Public Hearing na isinagawa, na isang rekisito sa pagbubuo ng anumang batas… Upang bago mabuo ang ordinansa ay nabigyang-pansin na at nakapag-bigay na ng opinyon ang lahat ng saklaw ng panukalang batas (There was no invitation to the public hearing that was held, which is a requisite in making any law… So that before the ordinance is built, it has been given proper attention by all stakeholders who can share their opinions on the said ordinance),” it added.
The jeepney drivers and operators also lamented that the fine for the traffic violations, as stated in the ordinance, is too high. Fines for traffic violations under NCAP range from P1,000 to P3,000.
“Masyadong mataas ang mga multa na itinatadhana ng nasabing ordinansa. Lubhang lampas ang mga ito sa aktwal na kakayanan ng mga driver at operator, at maging mga motorista (The fines stated in the ordinance are too high. These are severely over what drivers, operators, and motorists can actually manage),” the letter stated.
The transport groups claimed that it is illegal to impose a fine against violators that are over what stakeholders can manage.
“Ang epekto nito ay ang pagpatay na sa kabuhayan ng mga driver, operator at motorista, at ang epektibong pagpatay sa kani-kanilang pamilya (The effect of this is the killing of the livelihoods of drivers, operators and motorists, and the killing of their respective families),” the letter read.
Fifty-nine-year-old Danilo Bobis, who has been a jeepney driver since 1979, said he earns an average of P800 per day.
“Eh magkano lang kinikita namin, P800, P1,000. Kung kami magmumulta ng P2,000, maghahanap pa kami ng uutangan namin. Eh papano kakain pamilya namin? (How much are we earning? P800, P1,000. If we were to pay for a fine of P2,000, we still have to find someplace where we can borrow money from. How will our families eat?)” he said.
The alliance said it wants the local government to halt the implementation of NCAP and to set a public hearing for it and to revert the fines for traffic violations to at least P500.
Before the strike, Villanueva said they sought to dialogue with Gatchalian twice.
He claimed that they were ignored by the city council on their first attempt to dialogue. On September 12, instead of meeting Gatchalian, they were reportedly met by city officials and police who explained the NCAP to them but were not able to answer their questions regarding the ordinance.
“Doon sa mga nagsasabing nagmamadali kami, dumaan kami sa tamang proseso (Those who are saying that we are in a hurry, we underwent proper procedure),” Villanueva said.
Meanwhile, the Valenzuela City government and Valenzuela City police offered free rides to stranded commuters along MacArthur Highway during the jeepney strike.
The Valenzuela City government deployed 14 trucks and six buses to offer free rides in and out of Valenzuela City.