Longer Protest Ahead: Transport Group Warns of a 3-Day Strike

Cherryl Anne Cruz
@http://cnnphilippines.com

It seems getting rid of 15-year old jeepneys will not be as easy as the government thought it would be.

Transport group Stop and Go Coalition revealed that they are planning another strike against the government’s plan to modernize public transport vehicles.

“Magkakaroon kami ng three-day transport holiday. This is again to protest the government’s plan to modernize and phase out jeepneys,” said Jun Magno, president of the Stop and Go Coalition.

So far, he refused to give the date when the actual protest will take place.

“It will be announced the night before the actual strike, so the government will not be able to prepare for it,” he told reporters.

 

Out in Full Force

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Magno added that jeepney drivers who joined in the protest last February 6 will be lending their support in the upcoming strike. Many drivers who are not under any transport group also expressed willingness to join the said rally.

“‘Yung sumama nung February 6 sure na sasama ulit. Mayroon ding 6,000 individuals na walang samahan na nagsabing sasama sila anytime mag-declare kami ng araw,” he said.

Magno warned how the three-day protest will severely affect the country, judging from the previous one-day strike which occured last month.

“Nakita niyo ang puwersa nung February 6. Mas dodoble ito ngayon,” he said.

This will be the third transport strike against the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board‘s (LTFRB) plan to modernize public utility vehicles.

The first strike left at least 15,000 commuters stranded, and 12 routes closed out.

The second one, which was organized by the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON), left around 7,000 commuters deserted on the streets.

 LTO Ready for the Strike

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Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board Spokesperson Aileen Lizada expressed disapproval on the planned strike, citing it illegal and bothersome.

“They are doing it the wrong way. They inconvenience the public,” she said.

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chief Thomas Orbos assured the public that the government will provide trucks to help stranded commuters.

“If the strike pushes through, we are ready to assist the commuters,” he said.

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 Government Urged to Reevaluate the Modernization Program Again

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Magno is appealing to the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reevaluate their plans of phasing out old jeepneys.

They are also questioning provisions that require jeepney franchises to carry P7 million as its minimum capital. Another basis of contention is the provision that mandates public utility vehicles to have a minimum of 20 operational fleet units by next year and 40 units by the end of 2019.

Magno said that President Rodrigo Duterte is open for a dialogue with the transport groups regarding the modernization program. However, no dates have been set yet.

“When will that dialogue be held? The modernization (program) will be implemented soon, and yet we have not received any notice from them, no schedule. Totally, we got zero,” Magno said.

The DOT’s Jeepney Modernization Program also plans to replace jeepneys with more environment-friendly engines.

However, transport groups aren’t in favor of the new program, and says its implementation will take away their primary means of earning a living. They also predict that it will lead to “corporatization,” possibly giving richer and bigger companies a better edge that small jeepney drivers can’t compete against.

The government, however, assures operators and drivers that they will give them time to adapt to the new system.

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