Militant group twits Pialago: MMDA’s empathy to people has ‘passed away’
MANILA, Philippines – A militant group has slammed Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spokesperson Celine Pialago for branding the transport strike as unsuccessful, saying that the agency’s empathy for the masses seems to have “passed away.”
“If you continue to turn a blind eye on the issues faced by drivers, operators, and commuters, you just proved to us that MMDA’s and the rest of the government’s empathy has really ‘passed away,’” Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday said in a statement on Tuesday.
Danday’s remarks were in reference to Pialago’s blunder when she was still Miss Philippines Earth candidate back in 2014, wrongly saying that a fellow candidate who fainted “passed away” instead of merely “passing out.”
Pialago on Monday said that the government’s decision to suspend classes and work amid a transport strike staged by various groups should not be taken as cowing to the protesters’ demands.
She also noted that inconveniencing the riding public will never be a measure of success, especially since the public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators cannot sustain a continuous strike, as it would affect their livelihood.
Groups were calling for changes in the government’s PUV modernization program, which will require 15-year-old or older vehicles to comply with Euro 4 standards. Around 240,000 jeepneys and 80,000 UV Express vehicles may be affected by the supposed phase out.
The protesters claimed that they are not fighting modernization, but are standing against the process that would harm the interests of small drivers and operators.
Instead of making such statements, Danday urged the MMDA, Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to address the drivers and operators’ concerns.
“MMDA, LTFRB, and DOTr have been releasing red herrings all day long. None of their statements, however callous and empty, responds to the issue at hand, to the issues of today’s transport strike has been putting to fore,” Danday said.
“Let us remind you, government officials, that these drivers and small-time operators you brazenly lambast are the ones who pay for your salary. Excise tax and VAT charges from these impoverished heroes go straight to your pockets, so if you still have basic human decency and delicadeza, you should at the very least, listen to their plight and heed their democratic call,” she added. /jpv
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