DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers here will join the two-day nationwide transport strike set next week to demand for the junking of the government’s jeepney modernization program.
The transport strike will come four days before the set schedule of the unveiling of the jeepney prototypes at the Philippine Trade Training Center on October 12.
Rick Baron, spokesperson of Transport of Southern Mindanao for Solidarity, Independence and Nationalism-Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Transmision-Piston), said they are preparing for the nationwide transport sector protest set on October 16 to October 17.
Baron added that the Transmission-Piston is targeting to paralyze the traffic in Davao City by “90 to 99 percent.”
“We have already made some discussions with workers and students who will be affected by the strike to unify them on the issue because this concerns not only jeepney drivers and operators, but also the public,” Baron told Davao Today.
New program, new fares
He said with the new program, the costs of commodities, including fare, are expected to increase.
The transport group tagged the modernization program as a “jeepney phaseout program,” saying the replacement of old jeepneys with the new ones will affect the livelihood of over 600,000 PUJ drivers and operators nationwide.
In a statement on Monday, October 9, Piston National President George San Mateo said the “phaseout program” which will commence next year through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines “forces PUJ drivers and operators to purchase a minimum of 10 ‘brand new’ PUJ units which costs over P1.6 million each.”
“This will be operated under a “fleet management” scheme run by big transport companies while fares would be collected through the “Beep card” automated collection system owned and operated by the big business Ayala-Pangilinan consortium who has also a monopoly control over the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT),” San Mateo said.
He said only big transport corporations can come up with over P20 million to comply with the government’s new guidelines.
“They want to rid small operators and drivers of our livelihood to hand over to the monopoly control of big foreign and local businesses,” San Mateo said.
Meanwhile, Dionesio Abude, chief of the City Transport and Traffic Management Office said the local government will provide alternative transportation for passengers who will be affected by the transport strike.
The city government here however, has not yet issued an advisory whether there will be suspension of classes next week. (davaotoday.com)