Jeep drivers to go ahead with strike
MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (Acto) said it would go ahead with a planned strike on Monday in defiance of appeals from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that they defer the “disruptive” protest.
Acto president Efren de Luna said in an interview that the demonstration, which would be joined by jeepney drivers from select areas in Metro Manila, was a mere “taste” of a more far-reaching strike to come if the LTFRB did not heed its demands.
“If the LTFRB does not give importance to our calls, there will be a second protest that will truly be an all-out, nationwide transport strike,” De Luna said.
The group is protesting amid what it said were mixed signals about the fate of their livelihood under the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.
Operators had been given until 2020 to replace their jeepneys with vehicles that had Euro-4 compliant engines.
Jeepney drivers have repeatedly said they are not opposed to the broad goal of modernization, but that certain standards set by the LTFRB have made it difficult for them to comply. This included the fleet management program, which requires fleets to be consolidated into one “legal entity.”
The program allegedly discriminates against small-time operators as it would bar those with fewer than 10 e-jeepneys, said Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston).
P1.4M per unit
Transportation officials have pegged the cost of a fleet of 10 new jeepneys at P1.4 million per vehicle under the PUV Modernization Program, which the Crispin B. Beltran Research Center estimated in 2017 would affect 270,000 jeepneys and 650,000 drivers nationwide.
Piston president George San Mateo has slammed the program as one that would pave the way for the “massacre” of the livelihood of drivers and operators.
All vehicles that are at least 15 years old must be replaced under the modernization scheme, a flagship initiative of Mr. Duterte’s.
Drivers joining this Monday’s protest, during which participants will march from Quezon Memorial Circle to the LTFRB office on East Avenue in Quezon City, will come from certain areas only, including Montalban and Tanay in Rizal province; Sucat, Parañaque City; and Malabon City.
Should the LTFRB fail to deal with their concerns, all 475,000 Acto members are expected to join a second strike, De Luna said.
The LTFRB noted in a statement on Sunday that other major transport groups such as Pasang Masda, Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas and the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines would not be joining Acto.
In seeking to portray the strike as a mere “first taste,” De Luna appeared to be playing down the effect it would have on commuters.
The LTFRB has urged Acto to suspend the protest on the basis of it being a “disservice to the commuting public.”
Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) drivers staged a “transport holiday” just the week before, but the strike achieved minimal to no impact amid an apparent lack of cohesion among the loose network of TNVS groups.
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