Tugade supports sabotage raps vs ‘selfish, small-minded’ Piston
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade expressed support on Monday on the filing of an economic sabotage case against the “selfish” and “small-minded” jeepney group Piston that mounted a two-day strike starting today.
In a text message shared to reporters by Cesar Chavez, the transport undersecretary for rails, Tugade agreed to the Philippine Stock Exchange’s (PSE) suggestion of suing Piston, especially that the local bourse was forced to shut down today because of the group’s strike against the jeepney modernization program.
“They [are] selfish and small-minded. We want the Filipino public to be safe and have better transport system. Change is hard but must be done,” Tugade told the PSE’s Vivian Locsin, who recommended Piston “be charged [with] economic sabotage.”
Piston rallied its members today to mount a nationwide transport strike against the government’s plan to replace old and dilapidated jeepneys with commuter- and environment-friendly units.
The strike, which is the third to be spearheaded by Piston and the sixth in total to be held this year, forced Malacañang to suspend government work and classes in all levels throughout the country. This also led the PSE to suspend trading today.
Its impact, however, is yet to be determined by transport authorities, especially that there are still jeepneys plying most of the country’s routes.
After repeatedly calling on the government not to modernize jeepneys and just work on rehabilitating them, George San Mateo, Piston’s national president, changed tune recently and said that they were not against the modernization program but only against the corporatization of their industry.
He alleged that because the new units can cost up to P1.6 million, this would only put in debt jeepney drivers and operators.
The Department of Transportation earlier signed an agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to set up a financing mechanism that would help drivers through the transition. A subsidy of P80,000 would also be given to the drivers.
San Mateo said in a previous interview that he was not afraid of the government filing another case against him for mounting a transport strike, noting that he was simply responding to President Duterte’s challenge that they hold strikes against the modernization program.
In some areas in Quezon City and Manila, jeepneys are reportedly being blocked by protesters.
Government has prepared 54 trucks and buses to ferry stranded passengers.
Last month, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board charged San Mateo of violating Commonwealth Act No. 146, or the Public Service Act, for the February jeepney strike. /cbb
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