Transport groups Piston and No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition on Monday said they will hold a two-day transport strike on October 16 and 17.
The strike is a protest against a planned phaseout of public utility jeepneys and the foreign and local “monopoly” of the public transport industry in the country that is “abetted by policies” of the Duterte administration that are enforced by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board,” Piston president George San Mateo said.
The phaseout falls under a modernization program that includes fleet management and formation of operators’ cooperatives.
The DoTr said that there will be no more individual jeepney operators upon full implementation of the program.
Another transport group, Stop & Go Transport Coalition, held a two-day strike on September 24 and 25, describing the modernization program as “anti-poor.”
The planned PUJ phaseout would “massacre” the livelihood of over 600,000 PUJ drivers and operators nationwide, according to Piston.
President Rodrigo Duterte “has not only rejected our demand to junk the previous Aquino administration’s PUJ phaseout program, he is now even rushing its implementation to complete the monopoly takeover of our livelihood by his big business cronies and foreign auto industry giants,” San Mateo said.
According to him, the phaseout will be implemented starting January 2018 through the Transportation department’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, which forces PUJ drivers and operators to purchase a minimum of 10 “brand-new” PUJ units at over P1.6 million each that will be operated under a fleet management scheme run by big transport companies.
Under the scheme, fares would be collected through the “Beep card” automated collection system owned and operated by the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium, which, according to Piston, has a “monopoly control” over the train systems Metro Rail Transit 3 and Light Rail Transit 1 and LRT 2.
“They want to rid small operators and drivers of our livelihood to hand over to the monopoly control of big foreign and local businesses. Only big transport corporations can come up with over P20 million to comply with the DOTr’s new guidelines. Worse, this phaseout scheme is in line with the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium’s plan to monopolize the country’s mass transport system,” San Mateo said.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno, meanwhile, called on the riding public, especially workers, students and professionals to stand with PUJ drivers and operators against the corporate monopoly control of the country’s mass transport system.
“Duterte is conniving with his big business cronies and foreign auto-industry giants in completing the corporate monopoly control of our mass transport system. This would result in massive joblessness among transport workers and other informal livelihood based on PUV operations. For commuters, it would result in deregulated fare hikes and regressive service since it would be turned into a milking cow of big corporations,” Elmer Labog, KMU chairman, said.
with REICELENE N. IGNACIO