Why jeepney phase-out concerns teachers amid weeklong strike

March 6, 2023 - 1:58 PM
Transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) stage a protest in Caloocan City on March 6, 2023 (pistonph/Twitter)

A teacher’s union called on the Department of Education head to address education and commuter concerns instead of alleged red-tagging.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers of the National Capital Region (ACT NCR Union) expressed this in response to Vice President Sara Duterte who associated the group with the communist rebellion in a statement.

Transport groups started their week-long strike on March 6 as a protest against the total phase-out of traditional jeepneys in the country.

RELATED: Commuters rally behind transport groups’ week-long strike 

The ACT-Philippines joined other progressive groups in solidarity with the nationwide movement.

In a statement on March 5, Duterte, who also heads the education department, accused ACT-Philippines as “a lover of the useless ideologies espoused by the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.”

She also described the strike as “pointless” and a “painful interference” with the government’s supposed efforts to provide solutions to the country’s education system.

Why are teachers supporting jeepney drivers?

In response to the vice president, ACT NCR Union expressed shock and dismay at her accusations against the alliance and the protest itself.

Rather than associating them with the communist rebellion, the union urged Duterte to address the still-prevailing problems in education instead.

“We urge Secretary Duterte to stop resorting to red-tagging and instead address the legitimate concerns and challenges faced by educators and learners,” ACT NCR Union said.

“It is unacceptable for those in positions of power to use intimidation tactics to silence criticism and dissent,” it added.

The group also explained the following reasons why the phase-out of traditional jeepneys will severely affect the lives of teachers and learners:

  • The phase-out will result in the loss of many livelihoods of drivers “who are also family members of numerous teachers and students.”
  • Teachers and students are also commuters. They are thus “affected by the high cost of living, salary shortages, and poverty in commuting.”
  • The lack of funding to solve the problems of the country’s education system is the “genuine hindrances that impede the recovery of education.”

Moreover, the ACT Teachers further made emphasis on their view about supporting the rights and welfare of all workers, including the transport sector.

“We believe that supporting their fight for just and humane working conditions is necessary in building a society that is equitable and inclusive. We stand firm in our commitment to defending the rights and dignity of every Filipino, and we will continue to support legitimate and peaceful forms of protest and dissent,” it said.

Not pointless

Commuters and other concerned individuals also took to social media to criticize Duterte’s perception that the movement is “pointless.”

“Tandaan na si tingin ni Sara Duterte ay POINTLESS ito, as if walang mga pamilyang nabubuhay dahil sa pamamasada at as if ang mga mamamayan ay hindi umaasa sa abot-kayang transportasyon na naghahatid sa kani-kanilang mga trabaho, eskwela, etc.,” one Twitter user said.

“The transport strike is not ‘pointless’ they are fighting for their rights and hanapbuhays. Babarya na nga lang kinikita nila. Show some sympathy naman,” another Filipino on Twitter said.

“Grabe yung ‘pointless weeklong transport strike’ ni Sara. Mga wala talagang sympathy towards the poor jeepney drivers and operators,” one Facebook user said.

The hashtags #NoToJeepneyPhaseout and #SupportTransportStrike have reached the trending topics on Twitter Philippines amid the first day of the nationwide transport strike.