By Jel Santos
The number of jeepney drivers who joined the nationwide strike today was lesser than last year.
This was according to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) board member Atty. Aileen Lizada during an interview at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) metrobase.
Jeepney transport group PISTON today held a nationwide transport strike that has forced many schools to suspend their classes. Some local government units and government agencies even deployed vehicles to give free ride to stranded commuters.
The group is protesting against the jeepney modernization plan of the government.
“Nagdi-dwindle ang numbers– kumokonti sila–because ‘yung ibang transport groups na kasama nila tumitiwalag. Umaalis na sila and then like some would come to the office at nagtatanong and they get bonds straight from the government (Their numbers are dwindling because other transport groups who were with them before left. They left and went to us and asked and they get their bonds straight from the government),” she said.
Lizada said the transport strike was allegedly being forced by PISTON president George San Mateo, citing the reports that other drivers are getting threats.
MMDA said its enforcers stopped a group who forces other jeepney drivers to not ply the road in Guadalupe, Makati.
The LTFRB board member said the government is always open for negotiation with the group, but San Mateo doesn’t want to, saying he was insisting for a “jeepney rehab.”
Meanwhile, San Mateo said that their protest is “a legitimate course of action to defend our jobs and livelihoods. It is accepted form of protest recognized by the International Labor Organization.”