By Chloe Mari A. Hufana

BUSINESS groups in the Philippines on Tuesday said they were not worried about the transport strike by jeepney drivers and operators, saying it had not disrupted the operations of their members.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. told BusinessWorld by telephone their members did not report any changes in business activities.

“There were no reports about changes in business activities from our members, although we send our sympathies to the jeepney drivers who are striking,” he said in mixed English Filipino.

Philippine jeepney drivers and operators started their strike across the country on Monday to again oppose the government’s transport modernization program that will eventually phase out decrepit jeepneys.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday, April 10, said there would be no further extension of the April 30 deadline for jeepneys to consolidate into cooperatives and corporations.

The consolidation deadline lapsed on Dec. 31, 2023, but public utility vehicles (PUV) had been allowed to keep operating until Jan. 31 this year. The President extended the deadline to April 30.

Last year, Mr. Marcos had said the government would not extend its Dec. 31 deadline for consolidation. More than 1,900 unconsolidated jeepney and UV Express routes were at risk of being wiped out.

The strike was not a major concern, British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Executive Director and Trustee Christopher James Nelson said by telephone.

“If there would be a general strike, that would be something else,” he said. “But this is still one sector… There are buses and vans.”

Mr. Nelson said the jeepney strike has not much impact. “Investors are looking for an overall climate. For a lot of investors, the number one challenge is inflation. Linked to it are interest rates,” he added.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) offered free rides in Quezon City on Monday to help stranded commuters.

The government has been trying to get jeepney operators to consolidate into either a cooperative or corporation since June 2023. They will eventually be required to buy expensive modern jeepneys.