Transport strike over; Palace promises to review jeepney phaseout program
Public utility drivers suspended their transport strike on the third day following a dialogue with Malacanang officials Tuesday night.
In a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman Wednesday morning, the No to PUV (public utility vehicles) Phaseout Coalition said palace officials promised to review the government’s controversial modernization program and come up with a decision before December 31.
The coalition said officials of the Office of the Executive Secretary promised that all stakeholders, such as drivers, operators and commuters, would be involved in the review of the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) Order 2017-011, or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) on its PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP).
The dialogue was ordered by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the group added.
Transport groups Manibela and the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) launched the transport strike last Monday in opposition to the new deadline of June 31 when jeepneys will no longer be allowed to ply their routes.
The program is feared to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of drivers and small operators of the country’s iconic jeepneys and utility vehicles.
The government issued threats of punishment and later extended the June 31 deadline to the end of the year to discourage drivers to join the strike.
Due mainly to PISTON’s organizational strength, the two-day strike immobilized 80 percent of Metro Manila, including 100 percent of the metropolis’ national roads as well as many of the regional centers nationwide.
Several members of non-participating transport organizations also joined the strike.
“While we have yet to achieve our main objective of having the OFG junked, Malacanang’s promise to review the jeepney phaseout program is an initial victory. We also forced the Palace to finally reply to our demands,” the coalition said in a statement.
The coalition also called on Marcos Jr. to order the release of three PISTON members arrested by the Philippine National Police in Alabang, Muntinlupa on Tuesday for participating in the strike. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)