MANILA — The nationwide jeepney strike has paralyzed at least 90 percent of transport in the Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela area, the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) said Monday.
“Wala na halos bibiyahe dahil blockade na (There are barely any jeepneys operating because of our blockade),” Ruben Baylon, PISTON NCR secretary general, said in an interview with PNA.
Baylon is one of over 60 PISTON members who have been occupying the front of Bonifacio Shrine in Monumento, Caloocan City since 6 a.m. to protest the government’s plan to phaseout old jeepneys and replace them with electric, environment-friendly types.
He said the group, which was protesting against the phaseout since the previous administration, was disappointed because they had hopes that the new administration under President Rodrigo Duterte would reconsider the plan.
“Actually, 2015 pa nga lang nag-umpisa na kami magtutol dito sa ilalim ni Pnoy (former President Benigno Aquino III). Akala namin hindi na maitutupad yun dahil sa nagkaroon ng pagbabago yung gobyerno subalit hindi naman pala nagkatotoo yung mga pangarap namin noon kaya humantong kami dito, (Actually, we started opposing this phaseout during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III in 2015. We thought that with the new administration this would no longer be implemented but our wish wasn’t fulfilled that’s why we’re here.),” Baylon said.
Joining PISTON were some members of Kadamay, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and other transport, commuter and militant groups.
Baylon said he was hopeful that with other groups’ support, this would strengthen their call to suspend the phaseout.
“Nakita namin hindi na sasapat ang laban ng transport kung kaya’t sumanib na ang iba’t ibang puwersa upang laban na ito ng mamamayan. Hindi uubra ang welga ng transport kaya welga na lang ng mamamayan (We noticed that the transport sector’s fight would not be enough that’s why we have other groups joining us to make this a peoples’ fight. The transport sector’s protest won’t work, so we now have a protest of the people),” Baylon said.
Baylon, who feared that the phaseout would lead to a mass displacement of jeepney drivers, said that jeepneys could still operate in perfect condition despite being 30 or 40 years old.
The PISTON official said the group was open to talks with the President but insisted that the group was for modernization but not the same type of modernization the government had in mind.
“Kung gusto nila ng modernization kaya namin mag modernize ng sasakyan namin kahit walang tulong ng gobyerno. Sa katunayan nga, pinaganda ng ibang jeep yung unit nila para maayos at kaaya -aya sa mananakay (If they want modernization, we can modernize our vehicles without the government’s help. In fact, some jeeps have already improved their units so it looks better and provides better service to passengers),” he added.
“Kaso ibang modernization yung gusto nila. Gusto nila pagkakitaan at ibigay sa mga corporate monopoly (But they want a different kind of modernization. They want to to earn and give it to corporate monopolies),” he added.
Meanwhile, commuters affected by the jeep strike opted to take tricycles to get to their destinations.
Local government offices in Camanava area also provided free rides for commuters affected by the jeepney strike.