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ROUGH CUTS | Who’re pushing for the transport strike?

News report: “Residents near high-rise buildings at the corners of MacArthur Highway and Sandawa Road return home safely”. Where are they safe – on their short flight from home and their travel back? What about their days ahead knowing that their neighbor’s skyscraper has not been officially declared by authorities as one hundred percent as to its construction integrity?

Yes, we have yet to hear building regulators with the assistance of structure integrity experts declare in public that they have conducted a thorough inspection of the concerned multi-level edifice and found it unaffected by the strong earthquake. May we hear from the Office of the City Building Official or the owners of the structure please?

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The Office of the Civil Defense XI, the City Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO), and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhIVOLCS) conducted a walk-through on identified fault lines in Davao City and do some markings on those areas considered most vulnerable should there be strong earthquakes that will hit with the city or near it, as epicenter.

As already mentioned even in previous reports, the fault lines are said to pass through heavily populated barangays like Catalunan Pequeno and Talomo. Several residential subdivisions are actually sitting on top of the fault lines.

As far as we can recall, the discovery of the fault lines dates back to several years ago. But how come the government agencies charged with approving applications for residential subdivision developments seem to have no preemptive actions to ensure that major destruction on houses and the community as a whole can be obviated when earthquakes of strong intensity occur?

We can only agree with the composite team of PhIVOLCS, CDRRMO and OCD as far as its intention of conducting a massive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities for the public especially those residing on top or within the vicinity of the identified fault lines. The IEC can certainly help them come up with the most ideal decision on their situation and the many possibilities that could befall on them should there be earthquakes hitting the city in the future.

Yes, a public that is fully knowledgeable of the presence of fault lines and what it could bring to them will have a better opportunity to decide what to do. Should they gamble with their lives and take the risk of what fate can bring them? Or should they make the move now before harm will change their lives forever?
Of course we are hoping that the inspectors of the fault lines-covered areas will come up with recommendations to the city government so that policies can be developed to guide future development activities in the fault line areas.

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The President of the Philippines is very vocal in his pitch for action that will avoid the disastrous impact of climate change. We know as well that one of the biggest contributors to the fast degradation of the environment is the carbon dioxide emission from motor vehicles, the biggest number of them the public transportation system.

And we assume that this situation is the main reason why the government, some years back, had a law passed mandating for the modernization of the public utility jeeps plying the country’s roads servicing the majority of the people.

The modernization implementation has already undergone several deadlines and every time these are set the drivers and operators of utility jeeps immediately organize public transport strikes to force the government to move the deadline or quash the law calling for the modernization.
The latest among the many deadlines that is likely to be moved is the one set for the end of the year which is for the drivers and operators to consolidate and form either cooperatives or corporation. The government through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board or LTFRB is set to issue franchise to the cooperatives or the corporation that are supposed to acquire the modern jeep and similarly built vehicles.

Again some drivers and operators organizations launched a 3-day strike starting last Monday and to end today to protest the modernization and/or move the deadline for the consolidation.
Now this could be an acid test to the President’s banding around his desire to act with absolute resolve against any activity that will hasten climate change.

And we believe this idea of a friend of ours could be a batter input for President Marcos, Jr. if he really is sincere in his pronouncement on the fight of his administration against climate change. Here is our friend’s thought:

“Why is flexibility the norm for the government when it comes to the threat of strike by the PUJ drivers and operators to protest against the PUJ modernization program? The law mandating this program was passed several years ago and year end and year out the government has been unable to implement the law. Why is it so scared of these transport groups? They have been given more than enough time to plan and comply with the law. However, every year the groups using their freedom to organize transport strikes, are able to prevent the government from executing the law. It seems they do not care for the welfare of the public. In fact, if we look at a number of the public utility jeeps, these are already “death traps” for the riding public. And sadly, some drivers appear to be even ignorant of the rules of the roads.
“It is time that the law on the modernization program be finally executed not only to give the riding public the service they deserve but also to instill discipline to the drivers and operators. In the process the modernization will be able to attain its objective – improving the country’s environment and contributing to the gargantuan efforts of the government to fight climate change.”

And if we may add our own thoughts, we suspect that the operators, especially those having several units, are the ones strongly urging their drivers to do a transport strike.

After all, a cooperative or incorporated public utility jeep franchise will mean a reduction in the income of the present operators since the drivers will become co-owners or cooperative members. Thus, they will share in whatever income derived by the consolidated groups.

 

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