By Hannah L. Torregoza and Alexandria Dennise A. San Juan
Sen. Grace Poe has moved the Senate Committee on Public Services hearing on the government’s jeepney modernization program to next week to accommodate Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade who has a prior engagement this week.
Tugade, who was present during the congressional oversight committee on the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines yesterday, said he would be able to attend the hearing which has been moved to Dec. 11 of Dec. 7 as originally scheduled.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services panel, said Tugade has to be available so he can explain to the transport sector the government’s plans and possible safety nets to drivers and operators when the jeepney modernization rolls out next year.
“Nakiusap si Secretary Tugade kung puwedeng iurong ang hearing natin sa Lunes. Sinabi naman niya na magpapadala siya sana kung Thursday matutuloy yung hearing ng mga undersecretaries niya,” Poe said.
“Pero ako na mismo ang nagdesisyon at aapela ako sa PISTON at sa ibang grupo, sa tingin ko naman ang layunin nila ay makaharap mismo si Secretary Tugade kaya ako na mismo ang nagdesisyon na kung Lunes siya available, hindi ko siya pinakawalan – sabi ko bigyan ninyo ako ng petsa kung hindi kayo pwede ng Thursday,” she said.
“Sabi niya Lunes daw available siya, kaya itutuloy natin ang public hearing kasama ang mga jeepney driver para dito sa phaseout possibility, ng Dec. 11, Monday,” Poe said.
Despite the cancellation of the nationwide transport strike yesterday and today, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board still dispatched private buses to ferry passengers affected by the transport caravan rally staged by various militant groups.
LTFRB board member and spokesperson Atty. Aileen Lizada said that they prepared 31 vehicles and 22 private buses for passengers who would be affected by the rally staged by the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition led by transport group Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide yesterday.
Lizada added that their Joint Quick Response Team was activated for the whole day to assure that no “surprises” will affect the riding public even if PISTON leader George San Mateo announced last Sunday the cancellation of their planned strike.