THE leader of transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) was arrested Tuesday afternoon for leading a strike earlier this year.
Police arrested George San Mateo in front of the Hall of Justice, where he was supposed to post a P4,000-bail for violating the Public Service Act.
“Ang gusto talaga nila dito, ibuyangyang ako sa harap ng taong bayan para matakot ang mga operator na lumaban. Nakita nating kasuklam-suklam ang panggigipit na ginawa nito ni Duterte,” San Mateo told reporters in an ambush interview.
(They really want to arrest me here in front of the people so that the operators will be afraid to fight. What we’re seeing is the deplorable harassment of Duterte.)
“Dapat hindi na tayo dinala dito…panggigipit na lang ito. Nakakagalit dahil matagal na tayong lumalaban sa isyu ng mga drayber at ngayon lang nangyari ito,” he added.
(We should not have beenbrought here. . . this is harassment. This makes me angry because we have been fighting for the drivers and this is the frst time it happened.)
San Mateo was taken to Kamuning Police Station 10 in Quezon City at about 1:30 p.m.
“He voluntarily appeared, he already complied with the requirements to post bail. Eh hinarang pa ng pulis para ipakita ang pag-serve ng warrant (he was cornered by police to show the warrant),” said Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, who accompanied San Mateo in posting bail.
He added that the group would wait for the release order in court as it has complied with the necessary requirements
“Itong arrest mismo is flawed. Yung pagpapahayg mo ba ng grievances against government, criminally liable ka na dun?” Casilao added.
(This actual arrest is flawed. When you air your grievances against government, does that make you criminally liable?)
Piston’s secretary general Steve Rajano also condemned San Mateo’s arrest.
“Gawa gawa lang itong kaso. Bukod dito,nag-voluntary surrender na siya at may escort pang dalawang congressman at dalawang abogado pero pwersahan pa ring kinuha ng mga pulis,” he told The Manila Times
(These are trumped up charges. Aside from this, he surrendered voluntarily and was even accompanied by two congressmen and two lawyers but he was still arrested forcibly.)
Judge Don Ace Mariano Alagar of the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 43 issued the warrant of arrest against San Mateo for violation of Section 20 (k) of the Public Service Act.
Part of the initial complaint read: “(San Mateo) violated Section 20 and Section 24 of the Public Service Act which provides that the act of conducting a transport strike is an adoption or application of a measure which affects the public in relation to the public service which the transport sector was supposed to provide.”
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), meanwhile, said that it was “just doing its job” and that there must be respect for the rule of law.
In February, Piston launched a “Tigil Pasada” against the jeepney phaseout under the government fleet’s modernization program.
The transport group also held a transport caravan on Monday in place of a supposed two-day transport strike after Sen. Grace Poe convinced its members to attend her committee’s hearing on December 11 to discuss the issue with Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade.