Strike immobilizes jeepney routes in Metro Manila, regional centers nationwide

The ongoing jeepney strike immobilized jeepney routes in Metro Manila and several regions nationwide by as much as 100 percent, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) reported.

Despite threats of punishment by the government, the nationwide protest action against the phaseout of the iconic jeepney failed to deter drivers and small operators who also trooped to Mendiola in Manila to protest the government’s controversial modernization program of public utility vehicles.

PISTON said Cubao-San Juan,Cubao-Divisoria, Malolos (Bulacan)-San Fernando (Pampanga), Jollibee Molino, Alabang-Zapote, Marcos-Alvarez, Sangandaan-Pajo-Divisoria, and the Zobel Roxas- Paco jeepney routes have been 100% paralyzed starting 7AM.

The group added that Cubao-Quiapo, Kalaw-Proj. 2&3, Navotas-Divisoria-Recto-Monumento-Malabon,Pateros-Pasig, Paliparan-Zapote, Bagong Silangan (Quezon City) and Sta. Rosa in Laguna is also completely paralyzed.

Dozens of other routes in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and several cities in the Visayas have also participated in the strike, mostly by PISTON members.

Few jeepneys are seen plying their routes in major routes around Metro Manila such as Commonwealth Avenue, C5, and Rizal Province.

The Department of Transportation earlier warned the strikers that they will face both administrative and criminal sanctions, including the revocation of their license.

Transport group Manibela initiated the protest by announcing last week a five-day transport strike that PISTON decided to support.

Both Manibela and PISTON are demanding President Ferdinand Marcos’ Jr.’s revocation of DoTr’s public transport modernization guidelines mandating small operators to surrender their franchises to cooperatives and big businesses.

In a bid to prevent today’s transport strike, the DoTr has moved the deadline of the phaseout from June 31 to December 31, to no avail.

PISTON national president Mody Floranda earlier explained that the transport strike is their only way of being heard by the government.

Floranda said that while they are not opposing the modernization of the country’s public transport system, it should not come at the expense of the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of jeepney drivers and small operators.

The ongoing strike is the largest since the start of the pandemic in 2020. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PISTON announces support of transport strike next week

A major national federation expressed support for the week-long transport strike next week announced by drivers’ group Manibela starting Monday, March 6.

The Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) said it is ready to back the strike against the phase out of public utility vehicles (PUV) like jeepneys and the compulsory transport franchise consolidation by the government.

“Pinakikita lamang nito na handang makipaglaban ang iba’t ibang samahan para pigilan ang sapilitang franchise consolidation at PUV phaseout na patuloy na itinutulak ng gobyerno. Handang protektahan ng mga tsuper at maliliit na operator ang kanilang kabuhayan dahil buhay ng pamilya nila ang nakasalalay rito lalo sa panahon ngayon ng matinding krisis sa ekonomiya,” PISTON national president Mody Floranda said.

(This shows that several organizations are willing to fight to stop the forced consolidation and PUV phaseout being pushed by the government. Drivers and small operators are ready to defend their livelihood especially in this very hard up times.)

PISTON ready to back planned transport strike against PUV phaseout, compulsory franchise consolidation

PISTON explained that mandating operators to consolidate their individual franchises under a cooperative or corporation is “wrong, deceitful, and coercive” as it deprives operators of their rights and privileges as individual franchise holders.

It added that only big corporations with single consolidated franchises have the financial capacity to purchase and fully comply with the current PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) schemes.

“Kapag nag-consolidate ka ng prangkisa sa ilalim ng isang kooperatiba o korporasyon, sinusurender mo yung karapatan mo sa indibidwal mong prangkisa. Sa oras na di ka makabayad sa napakamahal na halaga ng modernization, wala ka nang babalikan dahil pinilit kang isuko ang prangkisa mo,” explained Floranda.

(If a small operator agrees to a consolidation under a cooperative or corporation, he gives up his single-ownership franchise. If it turns out that he could not afford to pay the very expsensive modernization schemes, he could no longer go back to his livelihood.)

The transport leader added that the lost franchises shall then be sold by the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board to large corporations who can afford the imported mini-buses the government wants to ply the roads.

In response to the transport strike announced on Monday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that the department is “giving enough ample time to transport groups to muster enough funds to buy new units” in order to comply with the government’s PUV modernization program.

PISTON said DOTr’s statement is a clear admission that their imported “modern” mini-busses are indeed unaffordable to small operators and drivers.

PISTON said the government must first implement a just transition program by supporting local manufacturers and allowing the rehabilitation and overhauling of traditional jeepneys to carry cleaner and environmentally sound engines.

It added that this will not only save small-time operators money, it can also further develop our local industries and create more domestic jobs.

“Bakit ba kating-kati ang gobyerno ni Marcos Jr na mag-import nang mag-import para palitan ang mga lokal nating jeepney at paglaruan ang buhay ng maralitang Pilipino? Sino ba talaga ang gusto nilang paunlarin? Malinaw na hindi ang mga Pilipino,” Floranda said.

(Why is the government so adamant about the importation of new vehicles to replace our local jeepneys? They are playing with the lives of poor Filipinos. Who are they trying to enrich? It is clearly not the Filipinos.)

Meanwhile, Manibela president Mar Valbuena shot down suggestions of a dialogue between his group, the DOTR and other transport groups opposed to the transport strike.

In a radio interview, Valbuena said the DOTr must first shut up its “dogs” in the transport industry who first benefitted in the modernization scheme by cornering new transport routes and benefitting from government loan programs to buy new vehicles.

In supporting transport strike, Floranda told Kodao that PISTON will join Manibela rallies wherever they will be held.

He added that PISTON is still in the process of determining which of its chapters nationwide would be able to hold transport strikes in support of Manibela. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)