Two-day transport strike looms

Militant groups slams the government on the planned transport strike saying it is anti-poor. File photo taken form Bulatlat.com

DAVAO CITY , Philippines — The militant transport sector is again planning to hold a two-day transport strike on Decmber 4 and 5 to dramatize their opposition on the planned phaseout of all  public utility jitney (PUJ) and the oil price hike (OPH).

This despite the fact that Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) national president George San Mateo is facing charges before the court.

San Mateo said the case is immaterial to the strike “For us, this case will have no bearing on our planned strike. The strike will definitely push through,” San Mateo said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

This developed as Senator Grace Poe on Saturday, December 2, urged transport groups to call off their planned transport strike on Monday and Tuesday.

Poe, chair of the Senate committee on  public services is asking the transport leaders to sit down with the Senate committee on public services to discuss their concerns rather than paralyze the general public

In a statement to the Media, Poe stressed “I am appealing to transport groups Piston and the Stop Jeepney Phaseout Coalition to reconsider and call off their planned strike and instead sit down with us in the committee so that the Senate can hear their concerns regarding the proposed jeepney modernization program of the government.” Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said in a statement on Saturday.

It can be recalled that the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office on February  filed a complaint of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) against San Mateo before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court for leading a transport strike in protest of the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) last February.
The city government of Davao deployed buses and offered free ride to all commuters during the October transport strike here.- Sourced photo

The militant  drivers’ groups appealed for public understanding and support, saying the jeepney phaseout is not just about the drivers and small operators losing their livelihood to corporations but also the riding public losing an affordable option in transportation.

“Once the jeepneys fall under corporations, and considering the price of the new government-approved jeepneys, the minimum fare will no longer be P8 ($0.16),” said KMU Secretary General Jerome Adonis.

San Mateo is  facing a charge for violation of Commonwealth Act No. 146 or the Public Service Act for allegedly encouraging jeepney drivers and operators not to provide rides to commuters in defiance of the government.

“The undersigned finds probable cause to charge the respondent (San Mateo) for violation of Section 20 (k) in relation to Section 24 of Commonwealth Act No. 146 or the Public Service  Act,” Assistant City Prosecutor Marvelous Madamba said in a resolution dated October 30, which was released to reporters Friday.

“The respondent as operator of a public transport can be said to be aware of the Public Service Act which provides that the act of conducting a transport strike is an adoption of a measure, which affects the public in relation to the public service,” Madamba added.

The nationwide transport strike held on February 27 resulted in the suspension of classes and work in affected areas due to the lack of public utility vehicles that would ferry stranded commuters.

But the LTFRB said it would not recommend the suspension of classes for next week’s transport strike, as the agency expects that it would only cause minimal impact on public
transportation.

The PUVMP requires jeepney units that are 15 years old to be replaced with Euro 4 engines or electrically-powered engines with solar panels for roofs and to be equipped with closed-
circuit television (CCTV) cameras, a GPS navigation system, an Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS), speed limiters, dashboard cameras, and Wi-Fi. -Editha Z. Caduaya with report from PNA