MANILA – Jeepney operators and drivers mounted Monday another transport strike to reiterate their objection to the government’s proposed modernization program that they say will result in loss of livelihood to thousands who cannot afford its cost.
Members of the PISTON (or Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide) transport alliance, which is leading the protest, massed up outside the National Housing Authority building on Elliptical Road in Quezon City starting at 5am.
PISTON was joined by the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, local members of ACTO-Pasig, FEJODAP, Pasang Masda and Pasoda.
Monday’s mobilization is part of a planned nationwide protest caravan against the impending phaseout of old jeepneys – a plan described by government as a blueprint for clean air, more efficient transport systems, alternative energy and road safety.
The protests are being stepped up after guidelines were issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), granting jeepney operators a three-year period to replace their existing units with modern, fuel-efficient jeeps.
The government has set aside more than P2 billion to cover some 28,000 jeepneys – it promised to subsidize the cost of change – but transport groups said this is not enough.
At 9:30 a.m, the protest caravan began to push on toward Welcome Rotonda in Manila, where organizers had planned a short program.
From there, they had planned to proceed to Mendiola at 11:30am.
According to PISTON-NCR president Modie Floranda, “we are dismayed that we’ve been serving people all this time, so why are they punishing us with loss of livelihood. Is this the ‘change’ promised by President Duterte?”
If the policymakers’ idea of “change” means that only “capitalist monopolies in transportation” will thrive while the industries that have long been serving the people will fall by the wayside, then, Floranda said, “hindi makatarungan naman yung sinasabing pag unlad o pagbabago sa ating lipunan [the change in our society that they promised is unjust].”
The protest on Monday is nationwide, with similar caravans held outside Metro Manila like Zambales, Pampanga and Bataan.
In Metro Manila, Floranda conceded that the protest did not have much impact. The effect – in terms of tighter traffic – was mostly felt in Manila, particularly at the Welcome Rotonda, España Street and Mendiola.
The protest caravan is set to end at 2 pm.