6 jeepney drivers protesting loss of livelihood face raps
MANILA, Philippines — Charges of disobedience to social distancing and mass gathering, and resistance to persons in authority would be filed against six jeepney drivers who held a protest against the government ban on passenger jeepneys in Caloocan City on Tuesday.
In a statement, transport group Piston said the six who were set to undergo inquest proceedings faced a fine of P3,000 each. Piston, however, argued that those who participated in the protest, including Ruben Baylon, its deputy secretary general, strictly practiced physical distancing and wore face masks.
“Due to the fact that it was clear that they practiced social distancing, it is obvious that they were arrested for trumped-up charges,” it said, adding that slapping a fine on them would just use up their few remaining resources.
The Caloocan police initially “invited” them to the police station but later brought them to City Hall for the filing of charges, Piston said.
“If it was done forcefully, then that could be considered illegal detention. They [police] must understand that the drivers lost their livelihood for nearly three months because the national government did not allow them to resume operations even under GCQ (general community quarantine),” George San Mateo, Piston national president emeritus, told the Inquirer in a text message.
According to him, the drivers were driven to hold a protest because they were hungry and were not among those who received any cash assistance from the government during the nearly three-month lockdown.
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