JEEPNEY drivers and operators who participated in a caravan against the impending modernization of public utility vehicles nearly came to blows with transport officials and police who attempted to impound their PUVs for being “out of line.”
“They were out of line. These jeepneys’ route is to Mandaluyong and they are here along Espana, ” Jose Manuel Buenaviz, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Task Force Team Leader, said.
The LTO and police stopped the protesters at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) along Espana Boulevard in Manila.
As tow trucks tried to pull out the jeepneys, the protesters retaliated by banging the trucks until they backed off.
The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) and No to Jeepney Coalition led the caravan that started at about 8 a.m. at Welcome Rotonda before proceeding to UST and then to Mendiola.
Transport officials were also deployed to observe and monitor the protest, with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) providing about 20 tow trucks.
The caravan replaced the December 4 and 5 transport strike, which Piston originally announced but called off to pave the way for a possible dialogue with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade at a Senate hearing on December 11.
“Ineexpect namin na sumipot si Tugade dahil siya ang kalihim ng DOTr. Kasi noong nakaraang hearing sa kongreso, hindi (siya) sumipot,” said Piston chief George San Mateo.
“We welcome and appreciate the effort of Sen. Grace Poe. That’s what we want to hear from the government. Sana lang ay magsalita rin si Sec. Tugade,” San Mateo added.
Sen. Grace Poe appealed to the transport groups to reconsider the strike and wait for the outcome of the hearing which her committee will preside over.
The government scheduled the phaseout of old jeepney units by January 2018 as provided under its Omnibus Franchising Guide, which mandates a fleet management, along newly rationalized routes under a modernization package—a basis for issuing new franchises.
San Mateo said the government has not consulted the drivers and operators regarding its plan on the proposed rationalized routes. GLEE JALEA, ASHLEY JOSE