WEH…STRIKE LANG, DESTAB NA? | Piston denies transport stoppage linked to alleged plot vs Duterte

October 16, 2017 - 9:29 AM
File photo of Piston president George San Mateo from Crispin M. Beltran Resource Center

(UPDATED – 10:28 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — Where did she get her information? Is she part of the government’s intelligence group?

Transport leader George San Mateo posed these questions on Monday after Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) board member Aileen Lizada said the agency had received reports that the two-day nationwide transport strike led by the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) “will be supported by other left-leaning groups allegedly… to destabilize government.”

Hindi namin alam kung saan hinugot ni board member Lizada ‘yong statement n’ya, eh hindi naman s’ya member ng PNP Intelligence Group, hindi naman s’ya member ng AFP intelligence group, isa lamang s’yang board member ng LTFRB,” San Mateo, president of Piston, said during an interview with dzMM radio.

San Mateo said the nationwide transport stoppage, which prompted the Palace to suspend work in government offices and classes in all levels of public and private schools, had nothing to do with the government’s claim of concerted efforts to bring down the administration.

Last Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to declare a revolutionary government and arrest all of his critics if the alleged destabilization moves would turn into chaos.

“Diversionary tactic na lang ‘yan para hindi mapag-usapan ‘yong isyu [It’s just a diversionary tactic so that the issue would not be discussed],” said Mateo.

‘Threat to livelihood, not threat to Duterte’

He said the real issue concerning the strike was not about attempts to overthrown the Duterte administration but about threats to the livelihood of drivers and transport operators by the government’s move to phase out 15-year-old jeepney units under its PUV modernization program.

“‘Yong fear namin…mawalan kami ng kabuhayan. At ikalawa, ‘yong pagtutol namin sa framework ng modernization ng gobyerno na ibibigay itong jeepney sa… kamay ng monopolyo at malalaking negosyante batay po sa pinirmahan ni Secretary Tugade na Omnibus Franchising Guideline,” said Mateo.

[This is about our fear of losing our source of livelihood. And second, is our opposition to the government’s modernization framework that the production of new jeepneys would be monopolized by big businessmen based on the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines signed by Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.]

Also, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on Monday said “corporatization, not destabilization, is the real issue in the transport strike.”

“The LTFRB is muddling the issue when it (said that) today’s transport strike is part of a destabilization plot against the Duterte regime. It is a desperate to downplay the validity of the protest action launched by jeepney drivers and operators nationwide,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.

“The cost of ‘modernization’ will be too high for ordinary drivers, leaving only big business as viable operators of jeepney fleets. Once big business control over mass transport is complete, fares will also soar,” Reyes explained.

Bayan said it wasn’t opposing the modernization of public transport but the government must ensure that the solution to the mass transport crisis would be “efficient, reliable, and affordable.”

“Corporatization is not the answer. The solution to our mass transport woes should be socially just and must not result in job displacement, indebtedness and private monopoly control,” it added.