MMDA: Transport strike, protests vs oil price hikes a dud
MANILA, Philippines—As far as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) was concerned, the transport strike launched mainly by the militant group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Drivers at Operators Nationwide (Piston) fizzled early in the day, with protesters looking like it failed to generate support.
In an interview, MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said that it appeared that jeepney operators and drivers saw the government’s position on the spiking fuel prices, the bone of contention between the parties, which caused the transport holiday.
“Maybe they were able to validate the government’s position that fuel prices are dictated by global market forces,” Tolentino said. “It seemed the protesters were not able to gain support even from their ranks.”
The Philippine National Police declared as generally peaceful the transport protests.
“Seamless coordination between police ground units and leaders of protesting transport organizations resulted in a generally peaceful transport holiday staged by groups affiliated with the Piston,” said PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero A. Cruz Jr.
Except for a confrontation that happened between student activists in España, Manila, there were no other untoward incidents, Cruz said.
PNP chief Director General Nicanor bartolome extended his commendation to local ground commanders and organizers for keeping jeepney drivers’ strike peaceful, Cruz said.
Pockets of rallyists sprung in various points, stalling traffic here and there but motorists appeared unnerved by the protest action.
Tolentino described the rallies as peaceful and no untoward incidents were monitored.
He flew on board a chopper with the National Capital Region Command chief, Major General Tristan Kison, and the MMDA chairman said the rallies could barely be seen from the sky.
In Iloilo and Aklan, transport groups and militant organizations joined protest actions on Monday in support of the national transport strike but public utility vehicles, mostly jeepneys in the two provinces, continued to ply their respective routes throughout the day.
In Iloilo City, around 100 protesters joined a rally in the afternoon at the Plazoletagay, the city’s main intersection.
Carrying streamers and placards, the protesters led by the Piston and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan groups demanded a rollback in the price of petroleum products by P9 per liter.
The protesters also called for the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law, which they blamed for the unabated increase in oil prices.
The protesters ended their rally with a noise barrage, which was joined in by jeepney drivers who sounded their horns.
The public transportation in Western Visayas remained normal as transport groups did not join the Piston-led strike because they said they lacked time to prepare.
In Aklan, Bayan, Piston and other militant groups also held a rally around 10 a.m. at the West Aklan Terminal in the capital town of Kalibo.—With Nestor P. Burgos Jr.,
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