Piston ready for 2-day transport strike, but…
Militant transport group Piston said that it would come out with a decision on Sunday on whether they would push through with their planned two-day nationwide transport strike this week.
George San Mateo, Piston’s national president, said on Saturday that while they appreciate Sen. Grace Poe’s calling for a committee hearing to discuss their concerns on the jeepney modernization program, they are “still studying her appeal” to call off the strike especially that preparations for it are already well underway.
Poe earlier called on Piston to reconsider its planned strike on December 4 and 5 as she invited the group to attend the hearing of the Senate committee on public services on Thursday, aiming to address issues surrounding the government’s most ambitious non-infrastructure program.
“I understand that certain issues in the modernization program still need to be carefully studied and threshed out with the concerned government agencies. We hope this can be done during the committee hearing. We also want to hear the alternative proposals from different stakeholders,” Poe said in a statement.
The senator’s call came after at least three provincial governments have already declared the suspension of classes in their areas on Monday.
Albay and Camarines Sur suspended classes in all levels in both private and public schools, while the municipality of Guagua in Pampanga province extended the suspension until Tuesday.
This was despite the fact that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) earlier said that it would not recommend to Malacañang the suspension of classes due to the strike.
San Mateo noted that their group does not totally oppose the modernization program, only that they are concerned of its implementation especially that it appears to them that the program is mainly being used as “front” to sell to drivers the vehicles that are compliant to Euro-4 emission standards and electric-powered models.
He pointed out that to date, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has yet to release its route rationalization plan, which is a prerequisite for the issuance of new franchises.
“We want to show to the public that the modernization program is merely an effort of corporations to take over the public transportation sector,” he said.
On the committee hearing on Thursday, San Mateo hopes that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade would show up to provide updates not only on the modern jeepneys but also on the status of the route rationalization plan.
Piston’s upcoming strike comes just days after San Mateo was charged for violations of Section 20 (k) of Commonwealth Act 146, or the Public Service Act.
On Friday, the Quezon City prosecutor’s office found probable cause to charge San Mateo for leading a transport strike in February that inconvenienced thousands of commuters. /jpv
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