CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Thousands of public utility jeepneys (PUJ) operators and drivers from Northern Mindanao will join the two-day nationwide strike, according to a transport group leader on Sunday, October 15.
Ringo Lago, secretary general of the Solidarity of Transport in Region 10-Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Starex-Piston), said majority of its members and even those not affiliated with their group will participate in the protest action.
“Even [Starex-Piston] non-members will join the protest action because they will also be affected of this phase-out. In fact, all sectors are affected,” Lago said in an interview on Sunday.
Starex-Piston is a member of the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, the group that leads the nationwide transport strike, aiming to paralyze the mass transport during the two-day protest.
“If we were able to achieve 98% success in 2014, we hope we will attain the same because we are backed by other sectors,” Lago said.
Farmers, workers, urban poor community members, vendors, and other sectors, will take to the streets in support of the protest action. Lago said they have set up 5 “protest centers”, adding that drivers and operators who will not participate are advised to stay at home.
The government is planning on abolishing the traditional PUJs and will be substituted by new jeepneys that are either electricity-operated or those that are compliant to the Euro 4 fuel standards. PUJ operators and drivers are given about 3 years to replace their old PUJs.
Transport groups have complained that the new PUJs are too expensive, although the government has assured them that operators will be given financial assistance.
Lago said they are pursuing the protest action, despite Martial Law as they will not be violating any law. “The martial law is intended for terrorists. What we will be doing is a legitimate and legal protest. We have the right to protest,” he said.
In a statement, Malacañang said it has suspended classes at all levels, both public and private and government work nationwide on Monday.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-10 (LTFRB-10) will be monitoring drivers and operators who will join the two-day nationwide transport strike starting Monday.
LTFRB-10 regional director Aminoden Guro said they will be keeping an eye on the transport protesters but at the same time they will be afforded the due process.
Guro reminded public utility vehicle operators and drivers that joining transport strikes are prohibited and those violating such provision will be penalized.
“We will give them the chance to explain why they have not operated during the transport strike,” Guro said, adding that they will give consideration if PUJ operators and drivers could give their justification on Monday and Tuesday.
To ensure that commuters will not experience inconvenience due to the transport strike, Guro said the LTFRB-10 will provide buses for people who may be traveling on those days.
He said he has requested the 3 major bus companies to lend a few of their units for public use during the transport strike. He cited 8 buses will be available to ferry commuters to and from the eastern and western parts of the city until the strike ends at 4 p.m. on Monday.
Guro said he coordinated with the police and military to deploy some of their personnel to act as bus marshals in case of any untoward incident. Contact numbers will be posted on the buses, which will be on standby at the city hall while waiting for deployment orders, he added.(davaotoday.com)