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Transport groups to stage 2-day strike to protest vs jeepney ‘phase-out scheme’

/ 04:21 PM October 15, 2017
This photo, taken last Jan. 21, 2017, jeepney drivers marched in Baguio to protest a scheduled 2018 phase-out of public utility jeepneys that are 15 years old or older. (Photo by VINCENT CABREZA / Inquirer Northern Luzon)

This photo, taken last Jan. 21, 2017, jeepney drivers marched in Baguio to protest a scheduled 2018 phase-out of public utility jeepneys that are 15 years old or older. (Photo by VINCENT CABREZA / Inquirer Northern Luzon)

Transport groups will demand on Monday the junking of President Rodrigo Duterte administration’s transport modernization program, which they slammed as a jeepney “phase-out scheme” and an abandonment of its duty to provide an “efficient and affordable mass transport system.”

Various groups, led by Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston), are geared to conduct a two-day transport strike on Monday and Tuesday.

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“Contrary to government’s claims, Duterte’s phaseout program, through the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, is not modernization but an abandonment of its constitutional duty to provide a safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system as a public service,” progressive groups Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Piston said in a statement on Sunday.

“Just as it did with other public services and utilities, Duterte is handing over our mass transport system to the monopoly control of profit greedy oligarchs and foreign big automotive corporations,” they added.

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The groups said the program would “massacre” the livelihood of over 600,000 public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers and 300,000 small operators.

They also said it would result in an employment crisis as millions would be added in the already “ever-increasing” number of unemployed Filipinos.

Aside from drivers and operators, the groups said commuters would also be burdened by fare hikes arising from the modernization program.

“For commuters, it would result in unabated fare hikes with the minimum fare increasing to at least 20 pesos through the Ayala owned BEEP automated fare collection system,” they said.

“It would also cause greater inconveniences as the route rationalization and fleet management scheme would set lesser PUJ routes to favor private vehicles and the big business owned Bus-Rapid-Transit,” they added. “This would also not ease the traffic crisis as PUJs only compose 2% of total registered vehicles in the country.”

Piston and KMU said PUJ drivers, operators and commuters should not suffer for the government’s “bureaucratic corruption, transport misgovernance and private profit oriented policies that has resulted in the country’s anarchic and big-business controlled transport system.”

Instead of phasing out PUJs, the groups said the government should “promote modernization through the nationalization of an affordable, safe and efficient mass transport system.”

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“Rather than subsidizing the onerous importation and procurement of new PUJ units, the government can use its funds to support our local jeepney manufacturers by subsidizing their modernization and development of greener PUJs,” the groups said.

Because of the slated transport strike, Malacañang has announced the nationwide suspension of government work, and classes at all levels of both public and private on Monday.

READ: No classes at all levels, no gov’t work on Monday – Malacañang

Work in all courts nationwide, as well as in the Senate were also suspended.

Meanwhile, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) board member Aileen Lizada earlier said they were prepared for the transport holiday. Buses and government vehicles would be deployed in major roads to provide free rides to stranded commuters, Lizada said.

READ: Gov’t set to deploy vehicles amid 2-day transport strike — LTFRB

Piston and KMU said their program would simultaneously begin at 6:00 a.m. in the following designated main protest centers: Cubao (Gateway-Aurora Boulevard), Philcoa, Welcome Rotonda, Monumento, Stop and Shop, Pedro Gil, LITEX, and Alabang.

These would be followed by press conferences and would culminate in a noise barrage at the protest centers.

Transport strikes, the groups said, would also be held in Baguio, Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, Cebu, Davao, Surigao del Norte, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bukidnon, among others. /atm

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TAGS: KMU, LTFRB, Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, Piston, two-day transport strike
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