Striking public transport drivers and operators rejected government promises to further study their demands to stop the phase-out of traditional jeepneys and announced the continuation of their scheduled three-day strike.
In a statement, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) said government representatives offered only promises that did not address their fears of losing their livelihood.
PISTON president Mody Floranda said Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB) chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III only told them the agency will further “study” their demand to withdraw their December 31 deadline against independently-operated traditional jeepneys.
Floranda added that Guadiz had the same response to their additional demand of scrapping the franchise consolidation schemes under public transport cooperatives as well as the replacement of the iconic Filipino jeepneys.
“Puro paasa. Hindi na mahinitay ng mga kumakalam na sikmura ng mga tsuper at operator ang ‘pag-aaral’ ng LTFRB,” Floranda said. (They just want to bring our hopes up again. But the empty stomachs of drivers and operators could no longer wait for their so-called studies.)
In a statement, Department of Transportation secretary Jaime Bautista said the December 31 deadline is not for the replacement of traditional jeepneys but for the consolidation of franchises.
Denying there is a government phase-out program on the jeepneys, Bautista added that roadworthy jeepneys may continue to operate next year.
Bautista also said that there are cheaper vehicles that operators may buy through loans from government banks.
Floranda however said the government’s attempts to pacify striking jeepney drivers do not address their demands but an effort to make it appear they are concerned about the public welfare.
PISTON has accused the franchise consolidation program as a scheme to take away jeepney franchises from small and independent operators and concentrate them under transport cooperatives controlled by businesspersons.
Members of the transport group Manibela joined in Monday’s transport strike in Metro Manila and key regions around the country.
This article was first published by KODAO Productions