Palace urges transport groups to hold down strikes, talk to gov’t instead

MANILA, Philippines — Transport groups should find better method or ways to air grievance against government rather than protest through transport strikes.

During the Tuesday, December 5, press briefing,  Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said transport groups could reach out to the government through formal dialogues.  

“Idaan po natin sa tamang proseso ‘yung mga hinihingi nila sa gobyerno dahil sila naman po ay binigyan ng pribilehiyo na magkaroon ng ganitong negosyo para magbigay ng serbisyo sa taong bayan, (They should go through a process because they are given the privilege to establish their busiess so they can serve teh people)” Roque said. “[M]akipag-ugnayan sila sa gobyerno. Makipag-usap sila, (They should coordinate with government and sit down for a talk)” he added.

Roque’s statement came in the wake of the arrest of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) President George San Mateo for organizing an earlier jeepney strike.

Secretary Roque added that the Duterte administration continues to uphold the people’s right to peaceably assemble, as guaranteed by the Constitution. 

Roque, however, stressed that such rights are also subject to limitations set by the law. 

The Palace Spokesperson clarified that the arrest had “nothing to do with arresting legal fronts” and was not a form of harassment, but was a result of San Mateo’s violation of Commonwealth Act No. 146 or the Public Service Law.

“I think he was warned that as a holder of a franchise, a certificate of public convenience (CPC), it is criminal and it is illegal for them to participate in any ‘Tigil Pasada’,” Roque said.

“As I said, it is also pursuant to a warrant of arrest duly issued by a court… We are just allowing the rule of law to prevail. The warning was made. He defied. He now has to face the consequences,” he added. 

The Cabinet official said San Mateo’s case sends a message to anyone who violates the law that it is the State’s duty to prosecute them.

“We can’t have it any other way. They were warned that although there is freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, it is limited in the case of holders of certificates of public convenience (CPC) because the law says so and the law metes the penalty,” Roque said. 

He explained that the CPC issued to Piston gives the group legal authority to render the proper services to the public. “But if you will be a tool to inconvenience the public, then that’s a violation of the trust repose[d] in you,” Roque claimed. –PCO