By Severino Samonte

Modern jeepneys (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Commuters between Novaliches, Quezon City, and Valenzuela City and vice versa do not have to worry about being stranded during the planned transport strike in Metro Manila on July 24 to 26, to be led by public utility jeepney (PUJ) operators and drivers protesting the government’s modernization program.

A total of 84 air-conditioned mini-buses or modern jeepneys belonging to two transport cooperatives and plying the Gen. Luis St. (formerly Novaliches-Polo Road) route from the former Novaliches town proper to MacArthur Highway in Malinta, Valenzuela City are not joining the “tigil-pasada” (stop operation) spearheaded by the Manibela (steering wheel) transport group.

Fifty-two of the units are operated by the Novaliches-Malinta Jeepney Transport Service Cooperative (NMJTSC) and 32 units by the Novaliches Development Cooperative Inc. (NOVADECI).

NMJTSC general manager Helen Reponia has assured Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chair Teofilo Guadiz III that their cooperative is fully supportive of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

Reponia said that in addition to its current fleet of 52 modern jeepneys, the NMJTSC also has 82 units of traditional jeepneys but the license plates have been surrendered to the government while awaiting the arrival of the additional units they ordered.

Meanwhile, NOVADECI Transport Service Cooperative (NTSC) general manager Mark Anthony Quiñon said the drivers and conductors of their 32-bus fleet are not participating either in the transport protest set to start on the day President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. delivers his second State of the Nation Address.

“Hindi po kami sasama sa strike dahil obligasyon po namin ang magbigay-serbisyo sa ating mga mananakay at kami po ay nakasuporta sa pagsulong ng modernisasyon ng pampublikong sasakayan sa Pilipinas (We are not joining the strike because it is our obligation to serve our riders and we fully support the modernization of public transport in the country),” Quiñon told the Philippine News Agency.

The NMJTSC began operating in 2019 with an initial 23 units on the Novaliches-Malinta line, a distance of nine kilometers and passing through parts of the villages of Novaliches Proper, Nagkaisang Nayon, Caybiga, Bagbaguin, Paso de Blas, Canumay, and Maysan.

Reponia said the second batch of 29 new units began operating on the same route a year later.

Reponia had earlier said they have been allocated a total of 124 units of the Hino Euro 4-compliant vehicles under the PUVMP initiated during the administration of former president Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The PUVMP is a partnership among the Office of the President-Cooperatives Development Authority, Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines, LTFRB, Department of Transportation, and Office of Transport Cooperatives. (PNA)