Malacañang cancelled classes at all levels in public and private schools as well as work in government offices on Monday, October 16, because of the nationwide transport strike to be led by the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON).
“This [suspension of classes and government work]is to minimize public inconvenience arising from the planned nationwide transportation strike,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Sunday.
Private sector workers are not covered by the order but employers have the authority to suspend work as they see fit.
Laisa Alamia, executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said classes and government work are likewise suspended in the region.
The transport strike, which is set to last until Tuesday, was held in protest of the government’s plan to ban rickety jeepneys.
According to Piston, transport strikes will be held simultaneously in Baguio, Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, Cebu, Davao, Surigao del Norte, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Bukidnon.
“The Duterte administration wants to massacre the livelihood of over 600,000 PUJ drivers and 300,000 small operators and turn our operations into a milking cow of his big business cronies, the Ayalas, Pangilinans, Aboitizes and Cojuangcos,” the group said in a statement issued on Sunday.
“For commuters, it would result in unabated fare hikes with the minimum fare increasing to at least P20 through the Ayala owned BEEP automated fare collection system. It would also cause greater inconveniences as the route rationalization and fleet management scheme would set lesser PUJ routes to favor private vehicles and the big business owned Bus-Rapid-Transit,” it added.
Other groups will joint he strike such as the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bayyo Association Inc. (Bai), Rizal Alliance vs. PUJ Phase out, No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, Unified Transport Federation of Makati, CAMANAVA Transport Alliance Against Jeepney Phaseout, Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network, All Workers’ Unity, and Kilos na Manggagawa.
The groups will start their activities in various staging areas at 6 a.m. today and will end at 7 p.m.
In Metro Manila, the main protest area are Cubao, Philcoa, Welcome Rotonda, and Litex in Quezon City; Monumento in Caloocan City, Stop and Shop and Pedro Gil in Manila and Alabang.
The government’s transport modernization program aims to phase out old jeeneys and replace them with bigger, air-conditioned and environment-friendly units.
Transport groups have opposed the program, claiming most operators will not be able to pay for the new jeepney units.
This is the second transport strike in three weeks. On September 25 to 26, transport group Stop and Go Coalition staged a two-day transport strike in protest of the government’s modernization plan but it failed to paralyzed traffic.
The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said the government will deploy buses to ferry stranded passengers.
LTFRB spokesperson Aileen Lizada said government vehicles will be prepositioned in six areas.
She advised commuters to call the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s hotline number 136 when there is a shortage of vehicles.
Private buses will ply jeepney routes, Lizada said.
LLANESCA T. PANTI WITH REPORTS FROM JOMAR CANLAS, JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL, AND REICELENE JOY N. IGNACIO