Sara Duterte

‘Hindi kami komunista’: Transport groups slam Duterte’s comments vs jeepney drivers

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‘Hindi kami komunista’: Transport groups slam Duterte’s comments vs jeepney drivers

Transport workers and other protest groups stage a program at the Mendiola Peace Arch, during the start of a week-long transport strike against the government’s plan to phase out jeepneys, on March 6, 2023.

Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

'Hindi po kami komunista. Ipinaglalaban po namin ‘yung karapatan namin sa hanapbuhay namin,' says Cubao-Divisoria Piston acting president Edwin Mabazza

MANILA, Philippines – Protesting jeepney drivers and operators challenged Vice President Sara Duterte to “broaden her mind” about their grievances, calling her red-tagging a diversion from government lapses. 

Duterte earlier released a statement calling the nationwide transportation strike “communist-inspired” and transport workers “poisoned” by the ideologies of the communist movement in the Philippines.

Cubao-Divisoria Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) acting president Edwin Mabazza countered Duterte’s claims, underscoring that they are just fighting for their rights and lone means of living.

“Hindi po komunismo ang panawagan namin sa kalsada. Kailangan nila kaming intindihin; hindi ‘yung sila ang nasusunod dahil sila mismo sa gobyerno, walang nailalatag na solusyon. Hindi sila nakakapagbigay ng tamang hanapbuhay para sa amin,” Mabazza said. 

(Our grievances are not communism. They need to understand us, they don’t always get to have the last say just because they’re government, especially since they have not laid out solutions. They cannot give us a decent living.)

Mabazza said their protests on the streets meant no harm, especially for daily commuters, as they only sought to pressure the government in considering their recommendations.

The transport leader urged for empathy from the vice president in relation to the Jeepney Modernization Program of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), wherein it would cost operators P2.8 million to modernize one jeepney.

“Hindi po kami komunista. Ipinaglalaban po namin ‘yung karapatan namin sa hanapbuhay namin. Hindi lang para sa aming mga drayber ngayon, kundi sa bagong henerasyon na magiging drayber pa at ito‘y magiging hanapbuhay,” Mabazza said.

(We are not communists. We are just fighting for our right to have a decent living. This protest is not just for the current drivers, but for the new generation of drivers.)

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Cubao-Divisoria Piston secretary Mary Jane Cadella also refuted Duterte’s statements.

“Kaya nila pinalalabas na ang Piston ay NPA (New People’s Army) ay dahil tinatapalan na lang nila ‘yung mga kamalian nila. Ang panawagan ko lang sayo, Ms. Vice President, sana malawakan ‘yung isip mo o malinis ‘yung kaisipan mo para sa ating mga kasamahang drayber. Huwag tayong manghusga,” Cadella said. 

(They’re linking Piston to the NPA because they’re covering up their incompetence. I call on the Vice President to broaden her worldview for the sake of the drivers. Let’s not judge.)

Piston, along with Manibela Transport Group, ended their strike on Wednesday after a discussion with Press Secretary and former LTFRB chief Cheloy Garafil in Malacañang late Tuesday.

Piston is standing pat on its demands, which include the suspension of the mandated franchise consolidation and late renewal penalty for jeepney drivers and operators, revisions to the PUV modernization program to make it inclusive, and the reactivation of the five-year vehicle franchise. –Chris Burnet Ramos/

Chris Burnet Ramos is a Rappler intern. He is currently taking up BA journalism at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

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