Manila, Philippines - The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday called anew on the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to immediately cancel all licenses of Metro Manila bus drivers pending the completion of their training and certification under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“Since public utility buses are imbued with public interest, we have to yield to the greater good,” MMDA spokesperson Maria Luwalhati Dorotan said.
Dorotan said the urgent request of the MMDA to the LTO was triggered by the recent spate of accidents involving buses not only along EDSA but also on other major roads of the metropolis.
She said what the MMDA wants is for all bus drivers to have a “clean slate” in the same manner the Commission on Elections had cleaned the voters’ list. Dorotan also said that aside from the TESDA certification, the MMDA also wants all Metro Manila bus drivers to pass a psychiatric test.
“Even if the driver has not been involved in an accident, he should be trained by TESDA. We need a clean slate. We need to professionalize bus driving. Many of the bus drivers don’t even know how to read,” Dorotan said.
According to Dorotan, the MMDA has already entered into an agreement with TESDA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the free training of 34,000 bus drivers plying Metro Manila routes.
Meanwhile, the MMDA is urging bus companies to comply with the DOLE directive to provide a fixed wage system for their drivers and conductors. According to the MMDA, of the 158 bus companies operating in Metro Manila, less than 10 have complied with the DOLE order.
Dorotan said a fixed wage scheme would benefit bus drivers as they would have job security, fixed working hours and even insurance and Social Security System benefits.
“Some drivers would argue that they get P1,800 per day. But that would mean driving for at least 16 hours. Under the fixed wage scheme, they would only need to drive for at least eight hours and the rest would be overtime,” she said.
“They are also assured that they can report back to work the following day,” Dorotan added. - By Mike Frialde