Jeepney strike: Gov’t threatens drivers, operators … again
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has had enough of jeepney drivers complaining about the government’s modernization program, warning on Wednesday that they would be revoking the franchises to operate as well as the licenses of drivers who would join in next week’s two-day strike.
Apparently fed up by the repeated strikes mounted by militant transport group Piston this year, Tugade said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) would already take action against drivers who would participate in the strike on December 4 and 5.
“We have invited Piston to dialogues, but still they insisted on holding strikes. Other transport groups sat down with us and we discussed the program together. Why can’t Piston do that? I am positive that when they do, they will understand and they will agree that it is time to overhaul the public transportation system,” Tugade said in a statement.
Tugade was referring to the transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide or Piston.
On Tuesday, Piston national president George San Mateo said they would hold their fourth nationwide strike next week to oppose the Duterte administration’s plan to phase out by January next year old and dilapidated jeepneys.
He said they were not totally against the modernization program, only that they were wary of its implementation especially that it appears that it is mainly being used as a “front” to sell vehicles that are compliant to Euro-4 emission standards and electric-powered models.
San Mateo pointed out that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) had yet to release its route rationalization plan, which is a prerequisite for the issuance of new franchises.
Following Tugade’s warning, San Mateo stressed that he was “willing” to go to jail for his views on the DOTr’s largest non-infrastructure program and for fighting for the rights of jeepney drivers.
Leah Quiambao, assistant transport secretary for communications, maintained that Tugade’s warning isn’t an infringement on the group’s right to assemble and freedom of expression.
She pointed out that they could revoke a jeepney franchise since it was merely a “privilege granted by the state.”
“Among the conditions upon the grant of franchise is that the [public utility vehicles] will not abandon their routes/lines and prejudice our commuters. Hence, ‘tigil-pasada’ is among the grounds for revocation of franchise,” Quiambao said.
The government has threatened to revoke the franchises of jeepneys whose drivers join transport strikes, but none have been reported cancelled so far.
In the previous transport strikes held this year, the LTFRB has filed several cases against operators who stopped operations to voice their concerns against the modernization program. To date though, the board has yet to revoke any franchise. /cbb
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