Philippine transport groups launched a nationwide strike Monday to protest a government program drivers fear would phase out traditional jeepneys, which have become a cultural icon, and other aging public transport vehicles.

Officials, however, braced with contingencies, including the deployment of government vehicles to take stranded passengers.

Other groups refused to join the weeklong strike that could keep more than 40,000 passenger jeepneys and vans off the streets in the Manila metropolis alone.

A transport group official here on Sunday said they will not join a transport strike against the jeepney modernization program beginning Monday.

Bravo said their group has already submitted a Letter of Intent to Elmer Francisco of Francisco Motors which manufactures the electric jeepney that will replace the iconic traditional ones.

Protesting drivers and supporters held a noisy rally in suburban Quezon city in the capital region, then proceeded in a convoy to a government transport regulatory office to press their protest.

At almost noon, Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista said no major transport disruption had been monitored. Other officials said government vehicles were deployed to carry commuters in some areas but did not immediately provide more details.

Opponents say most poor drivers could not afford to purchase new passenger jeepneys even with promised government financial aid.