S. Tagalog workers support transport strike, Hit gov’t plans to file sabotage cases against drivers, operators

UPDATE: As of 3:00PM,
Laguna D1, D2 and San Pablo: 100% paralyzed
Tanauan and Lipa, Batangas: 95% paralyzed
GMA, Cavite: 100% paralyzed
Palapala-Zapote route: data to follow.

The regional militant labor center PAMANTIK-KMU led workers across the Southern Tagalog region today in support of the transport strike headed by its affiliate Southern Tagalog Regional Transport Association (STARTER)-PISTON and the Save our Jeepneys Network – Southern Tagalog.

As of current updates by the Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON), the provinces of Laguna and Rizal are now 95% paralyzed due to the transport strike. Support activities for the transport strike were held at Amar, Balibago in Santa Rosa City, Pulo in Cabuyao City, and Crossing, Calamba City, Laguna.

Claire Balabbo, the newly-elected Secretary General of PAMANTIK-KMU, said that the unequivocal support for jeepney drivers and operators come from the large part of the commuting public – the workers, students, and the urban poor.

“The transport strike and its subsequent support activities only prove that everyone will be adversely affected by the hastily-done and anti-people Jeepney Modernization Program (JMP),” she added.

Under the Jeepney Modernization Program, jeepney drivers and operators will be forced to give away their jeepneys to the government in exchange for a piecemeal subsidy – which the government claims to be at Php 80,000 per driver. This is very small compared to the Php 1.5 million estimated expense for an e-jeepney unit, where they will be paying about Php 800/day.

Balabbo noted that the JMP is but a murder to livelihood of small drivers and operators in the guise of environmental protection. “The cost of these e-jeepneys are comparable to many sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and other private vehicles on the market, compared to the common jeepney, which is about half or one-fourth of the price – a cost that drivers and operators cannot afford,” she added.

Balabbo also condemned the plans of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the Philippine Stock Exchange to file cases to the participants and organizers of the transport strike.

The LTFRB and DoTr has been vocal in suspending those that would join the transport strike. Meanwhile, DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade has also welcomed the proposal of the Philippine Stock Exchange Inc.’s Vivian Locsin to file cases of economic sabotage against PISTON.

“With the mass opposition against the jeepney phaseout, it has been clear that the riding public, drivers and operators are not the small-minded and selfish ones; but the DoTr itself, which, including its attached agencies, has participated in money-making schemes. The JMP will be a big cash cow for the DoTr, LTFRB, and its corporate cronies,” she added.

PAMANTIK stated that the only better alternative for jeepney drivers, operators and the riding public will be a pro-people and democratic mass transport system that fits their needs.

Students from Laguna also welcomed striking jeepney drivers and operators at Los Baños Crossing by afternoon today. Protests in Laguna and other provinces will continue until tomorrow. # # #