DAVAO DEL NORTE, Philippines— A labor group now is calling President Rodrigo Duterte an “icon of oligarchs” after he castigated the protesting jeepney drivers for staging a two-day transport strike, an act which the president called as “rebellion.”
Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned Duterte for tagging the group as front of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) along with transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) and human rights group Karapatan.
KMU said that Duterte should “stick to the issue” and address the issue that is threatening the livelihood of the country’s jeepney drivers and operators. He noted that branding legal and legitimate workers and peoples’ organizations as fronts of the underground CPP “sets up the former for attacks from the military and the entire repressive apparatus of the state.”
“He [Duterte] refuses to listen to the jeepney drivers and operators’ legitimate demand and logical reasoning to junk this scheme,” KMU said in a statement on Wednesday, October 18.
KMU was reacting to the government’s plan of phasing out public utility jeepneys aged 15 years or older. The Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program was launched earlier in June under the auspices of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The plan was strongly opposed by transport groups across the country which resulted to a two-day strike to protest the government’s PUV modernization program. The Palace, in response to the strike, ordered the suspension of classes and work in the government.
On Tuesday, Duterte criticized PISTON, KMU and Karapatan for making a “big deal” about the government’s plan of phasing out jeepney.
Piston and Left-leaning organizations are committing a “one big conspiracy” undermining his administration, Duterte said.
“Itong Karapatan, itong KMU, itong Piston, they are just the legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines… It’s a one big conspiracy but they are at the same time—all of them—are committing right now rebellion. Tulungan lang yan sila,” Duterte said in a televised speech during the Federalism confab in Camarines Sur.
But KMU argued that implementing the government’s jeepney modernization program, Duterte will be “raking super profits from the scheme,” placing himself to the ranks of oligarchs such as the Ayalas, Pangilinans, and Cojuangcos who owned telecommunication, power, water and transport utilities. (davaotoday.com)