MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) canceled the planned nationwide transport strike on Monday and Tuesday, December 4 and 5.
In a press briefing, Piston said it is heeding Senator Grace Poe’s appeal for the cancellation and will instead voice out concerns during the scheduled Senate hearing on Thursday, December 7.
“Do’n sa public hearing, sa December 7, na kinakasa ni Senator Grace para ma-flesh out itong issue. Tayo dito, pansamantalang pinagpapaliban natin ang tigil pasada bukas at sa Martes,” Piston leader George San Mateo said on Sunday, December 3.
(We will flesh out our [concerns] on this issue at the public hearing on December 7 that was called by Senator Grace. We’re temporarily postponing the transport strike [set] tomorrow and on Tuesday.)
San Mateo added that the strike would instead happen in January.
The government is set to phase out “deterioriated” public utility vehicles (PUVs) in 2018, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for jeepneys to modernize by the end of the year.
San Mateo said they will still stage protests against the phaseout on Monday, including a caravan protest from Quezon City to Mendiola in Manila.
Piston members in Cebu will also march from Gorordo Avenue to the local office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) beginning 8 am on Monday.
In a statement, Poe welcomed Piston’s decision to call off the strike.
“Hindi na kailangang magdusa pa ang ating mga kababayang nakaasa sa pampublikong transportasyon (Our citizens who are dependent on public transportation will not have to suffer),” she said.
We welcome the decision of Piston and No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition to heed our appeal and call off their nationwide transport strike. pic.twitter.com/biwV4POJr5— GRACE POE (@SenGracePOE) December 3, 2017
On Saturday, December 2, Poe urged transport groups to cancel the strike and asked them to sit down with the Senate to discuss their concerns.
The planned transport strike had prompted some local government units (LGUs) to suspend classes on Monday. The LGUs of Camarines Sur and Guagua, Pampanga took back their announcements as Piston canceled the strike. (READ: #WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Monday, December 4)
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.
But jeepney operators and drivers have argued that PUV modernization would lead to a loss of jobs, and are asking the government to junk the program. – with a report from Mars W. Mosqueda Jr / Rappler.com