By Reynard Magtoto
LEGAZPI CITY – Condor Piston Bicol already announced its planned regional coordinated transport strike this Monday, October 16, despite the threats from Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that they would likely be banned or denied a franchise if they go on a strike.
Condor Piston Bicol together with No to Jeepney Phase out Coalition encourage the public to join them in their various mass action centers and support their protest against Jeepney Phase Out, a neoliberal attack under Emergency Traffic Power Bill.
Last June 19, DOTr Sec. Arthur P. Tugade signed the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines that aims to change the country’s vehicles into world-class. Yesterday, October 12, the department showed a glimpse on modern jeepneys during the 1st Philippine Auto Parts Expo (PhilAPEX).
According to the facebook post of DOTr, prototype vehicles were shown as proof that the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program of the government is moving, on track, and will soon serve its purpose of providing Filipinos a better, more efficient, eco-friendly, safe, and dignified commuting experience.
But Condor Piston Bicol Secretary General Ramon Rescovilla counter these arguments. He stated that Duterte administration only prioritizes the interests of foreign capitalists and its allies over the general public.
“It is clear that the PUV Modernization Program is a money-making scheme of Duterte regime for foreigners and local capitalists, corrupt government and its ‘yellow’ leaders in transport sector drooling over big interests. They are the only ones who will benefit from this scheme as they continue to torture and ‘milking’ small operators, drivers and commuters,” Rescovilla stated.
The P1.6 million cost of a new unit would spell the end of small driver-operators. Meanwhile, the fleet management system, which requires a minimum of 10 units for a franchise, favors only big business. Small driver-operators will ultimately be left out while the multi-million peso companies would be able to qualify.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) supports the transport strike and protests against the planned jeepney phase-out and the looming corporatization of public transport.
“While there is a need to upgrade the quality of jeepneys and uplift the situation of transport workers, the planned Omnibus Franchising Guidelines pave the way for the displacement of tens of thousands of drivers and operators in the name of private profits, under a profit-oriented modernization program,” BAYAN stated.
“Behind the new designs and added perks of the jeepneys being promoted by the LTFRB is the sad reality that drivers and operators are being eased out of their livelihood just so big business can squeeze more profits from the backward economy. The slogan of “modernization” is misleading as it only rides on the public discontent over the state of mass transport, but conceals the profit-oriented system it aims to institutionalize,” BAYAN added.
Instead of supporting the PUV Modernization program, progressive groups demand the government to invest in mass transport and create the necessary economic base to sustain it – a nationalized, state-run mass transport system, supported by an industrialized economy.
Meanwhile, transport leaders in Metro Manila allied with Piston will hold its 2-day transport strike on October 16 to 17. (BaretangBikolnon.com)