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Piston to hold jeepney strike on December 4 to 5

Aika Rey
Piston to hold jeepney strike on December 4 to 5
The Department of Transportation warns jeepney operators and drivers that their franchises and licenses would be canceled if they join the strike

MANILA, Philippines – Transport groups are set to hold another strike on Monday and Tuesday, December 4 and 5.

Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) and the No To Jeepney Phaseout Coalition (NTJPC) will hold another jeepney strike – their 4th one this year and the second specifically to protest the looming phaseout of old jeepneys in January 2018.

“Ang mga e-jeepneys na dispalinghado at hindi angkop sa klimang tropikal at kabundukan ay nagkakahalaga ng P1.8 milyon, o kasinghalaga ng isang SUV (sports utility vehicle) na hindi kayang bilhin ng mga maliliit na operator. Ibabaon sa utang ang mga operator at tiyak na masaker sa kabuhayan nila ang patutunguhan nito,” Piston president George San Mateo said.

(The inferior e-jeepneys which are not fit for tropical climates and mountainous areas cost P1.8 million each, similar to an SUV that small-time operators cannot afford. It will only bury the operators in debt and will definitely kill their livelihood.)

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to phase out “deterioriated” public utility vehicles (PUVs) this coming January, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for jeepneys to modernize by the end of the year.

The PUV modernization program mandates the phasing out of jeepneys aged 15 years and older and the replacing of non-Euro-4 compliant engines with the new models prescribed by the government. Around 180,000 jeepneys need to be replaced, transport officials said.

Cancellation of franchises

In a statement, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade warned jeepney operators and drivers that their franchises and licenses would be canceled if they join the strike on Monday and Tuesday.

Tugade slammed Piston for supposedly refusing to set a dialogue with authorities.

“We have invited Piston to dialogues, but still they insisted on holding strikes. Other transport groups sat down with us and we discussed the program together. Why can’t Piston do that? I am positive that when they do, they will understand and they will agree that it is time to overhaul the public transportation system,” said Tugade.

The DOTr also said it has received support from other public transport groups such as the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations of the Philippines, Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila and Suburb Drivers Association Nationwide Incorporated, Land Transportation Organization of the Philippines, and Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines.

Transportation Undersecretary Thomas Orbos also called on the groups to prioritize the interest of the riding public.

“It is high time for them to stop prioritizing their own interests, and start considering the interest of the riding public which, for the longest time, has been clamoring for a safe, convenient, and environment-friendly system of public transport,” Orbos said.

PUV modernization

By 2020, the government envisions a modernized and efficient transport system in the country.

Through PUV modernization, new PUV models that are safe and environment-friendly will be rolled out.

But back in October, parts of Luzon were crippled due to a nationwide strike staged by Piston against the program. (WATCH: Abala ba ang transport strike?)

The transport group argued that PUV modernization would lead to a loss of jobs, and asked the government to junk the program.

So far, many questions remain. Transportation officials admitted that they have yet to map out a timeline for how the modernization program will be rolled out. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.