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Piston threatens Duterte: Talk to us, or we’ll give you monthly strikes

Rambo Talabong
Piston threatens Duterte: Talk to us, or we’ll give you monthly strikes
Piston president George San Mateo says they have asked for a dialogue with Duterte at least twice

MANILA, Philippines – After repeated requests for a dialogue with President Rodrigo Duterte supposedly landing on deaf ears, transport group Piston has had enough.

According to Piston president George San Mateo, if Duterte fails to grant them an audience, they will go on strike every month.

Kapag hindi po pinakinggan ng Pangulo ito, ‘sinusumpa po namin, gagawin namin itong welgang ito buwan-buwan, dahil wala na kaming choice. ‘Sinandal na kami ng pamahalaan sa pader,” San Mateo said in his speech on Tuesday, October 17, during their rally along Aurora Boulevard.

(If the President still does not listen [to our request], we will go on strike every month, because we now don’t have a choice. The government now has pressed us against the wall.)

San Mateo led the strike from October 16 to 17, leading to the disruption of public transportation to some key cities nationwide. (READ: EXPLAINER: What’s the reason for the 2-day transport strike?)

 PROTEST. Transport group PISTON leads protest against the PUV modernization program in Cubao, Quezon City on October 16, 2017. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

The demand comes after Piston repeatedly asked for a one-on-one with Duterte for them to make their grievances known. The main reason for their two-day strike: the Department of Transportation (DOTr)’s jeepney modernization program which plans to replace all jeepneys at least 15 years old by 2020.

According to San Mateo, they first sought a dialogue with Duterte during their February strike.

After that strike, San Mateo said, Malacañang had told them that they should go on strike again before Duterte considers. They went on another strike in July, but still to no avail.

Piston is still deciding on how many days a month they plan to hold the strike, but San Mateo was confident in saying that their drivers are willing to lose days of income every month for their voices to be heard. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.