BACOLOD CITY – Four hours after the transport strike started around 7 a.m., militants reported public transport paralysis of around 70 to 80 percent here and up to 90 percent in the province.
The police, however, gave a very low paralysis estimate.
Drivers are protesting the continuous increase in oil prices and are demanding President Noynoy to regulate prices or, at the very least, temporarily suspend the Value Added Tax on petroleum products.
UNDOC and allied organizations of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan are also calling for the repeal of the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act and the nationalization of the oil industry.
Local businessmen, some of whom had earlier pledged full support for the strike, are also calling for government’s intervention on the wide price difference in pump prices in Negros Occidental compared to those in other provinces.
Christian Tuayon of Bayan said around 80 percent of public utility jeepneys and buses in the northern part of Bacolod and the province have ceased to ply their routes based on their observation at the junction of the BS Aquino Drive and Lacson Street where Bayan has set up a rally center.
Bayan Muna’s Alejandro Deoma, meanwhile, said up to 99 percent of public jeepneys plying out-of-town routes in the southern part of the province have stayed off the roads.
But the city’s traffic chief, Chief Insp. Luisito Acebuche, said there is only 20 percent paralysis in the city proper.
Additional personnel have been deployed in the streets to prevent striking drivers from blocking roads, he added.
The strike is led by the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC), which claims membership of almost all drivers’ organizations plying out-town routes.
Most the organizations of jeepney drivers in the city, on the other hand, belong to the Federation of Bacolod City Drivers Associations (FEBACDA) that is affiliated with the 1-Utak partylist.
FEBACDA president Elizabeth Katalbas had earlier said that they are not joining the strike.
While officials of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry have expressed support for the two-day strike, no commercial establishments have yet been seen closing down for the day.
More updates on the transport strike later today.