AFTER his arrest and release, a transport group leader warned of bigger protests ahead if the government would insist on its jeepney modernization plan.
“Magpapatuloy kami sa mga transport strike namin kung magmamatigas ang gobyerno sa jeepney modernization,” George San Mateo, president of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), said.
San Mateo was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly violating the Public Service Act over a strike his group led in February. He was released later in the day after posting a P4,000 bail.
“Asahan ho ninyo na lalo naming palalakasin ang mga aktibidad laban sa phaseout at intimidation (ng gobyerno),” Piston secretary general Steve Ranjo told The Manila Times.
(Expect us to strengthen our activities against the phaseout and intimidation of the government.)
Ranjo added that San Mateo’s arrest was an “overkill” to manifest “a climate of fear” on drivers and operators if they would go against the modernization program.
Militant group Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Jerome Adonis also condemned San Mateo’s arrest and told The Manila Times that the “fake arrest” would not stop the protests.
Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Committee on Public Services, also questioned the “untimely arrest” and the intent of the filing charges against San Mateo.
“It is unclear base on the cited section of the Public Service Act what exactly San Mateo violated,” she said.
Poe added that the proper penalty on the Piston chief should have been a fine or a suspension of franchise, instead of threatening him with incarceration.
She also invited Piston to a Senate hearing next week, along with other representatives from transportation agencies to clarify the aspects of the modernization program, including the phaseout of old jeepney units and renewal of franchises as early as January 2018.
Meanwhile, the transport group reiterated that it was meeting to plan its next steps in the coming days. GLEE JALEA