Jeepney groups aim for more impact with longer strike
After staging two strikes in February, transport groups opposed to the government’s plan to phase out jeepneys aged 15 years or more are again planning a “transport holiday,” this time to last for three days.
Jun Magno, president of the Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator ng Pilipinas Genuine Organization (Stop & Go) Transport Coalition, said on Wednesday that despite their protest actions last month, they were still waiting for a positive response from the government.
Those who participated in the mass action were instead threatened with the revocation or suspension of their franchise, he added.
Magno did not say when their group would go on strike, saying it would be announced a day before the transport holiday for it to have more impact. During the previous mass actions, the government deployed buses and trucks to ferry stranded commuters, minimizing their effect.
According to Magno, they were against the Department of Transportation’s modernization program, specifically the replacement of diesel-run jeepneys with electric-powered models, as this would lead to hundreds of their members losing their means of livelihood.
Aileen Lizada, a board member and the spokesperson of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), belied Magno’s claim that the government has been ignoring the protesters.
Lizada said LTFRB chair Martin Delgra III had met with the group to discuss the modernization program, including a financing scheme for affected jeepney drivers.
She said Magno opposed the program because his group only wanted aging jeepneys to be rehabilitated and repainted just to be considered well-maintained.
“It might be well-maintained to them but it is (not up to the) LTFRB’s standards. If they don’t want the government’s modernization program, they should offer a counterproposal. What is there to act on if there is nothing on the table? How can I explain (the program) to Jun Magno when from the very start, his mind is already closed (to the idea),” Lizada said on Wednesday.
The official earlier warned that jeepney drivers who would join strikes may have their franchise to operate suspended or revoked.
To date, however, no driver has been meted out the penalty. Lizada explained that this was due in part to the bulk of cases being heard by the board.
Cases involving two batches of drivers had been submitted for resolution, she said.
The LTFRB was also finalizing the case it would file against Magno for organizing the strikes, even if the Stop & Go president did not have a jeepney franchise, Lizada added.