Piston sets nationwide rallies vs phaseout of old jeepneys, fuel price increase
MANILA, Philippines — Transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide on Sunday announced that it will stage a nationwide transport protest this month against a plan to replace old jeepneys.
The group has scheduled the transport protest on January 24, Wednesday.
“On January 24, we’ll hold protests at all offices of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in the entire country,” Piston president George Mateo said in a press briefing.
Mateo, however, clarified that the scheduled protest is not a strike.
The group made the announcement after the Transportation department said it will push through with a three-year campaign to take jeepneys that are at least 15 years old off the streets. The campaign is part of the government’s program to upgrade public transportation in the Philippines.
Piston said the government’s modernization program will massacre the livelihood of drivers and operators and would burden to the riding public. Some transport groups, including Piston, are concerned that new franchise rules and the cost of replacing jeepney units favor big transportation companies and cooperatives.
They contend that even with government subsidies for the new jeepneys, single-unit operators will be hard pressed to afford to upgrade.
Mateo said Piston is also asking the government to grant a fuel discount of P6 per liter to jeepney drivers in response to Republic Act 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law, which took effect on January 1.
TRAIN raises the petroleum excise tax, which will bring up prices of liquefied petroleum gas, diesel and gasoline.
San Mateo said jeepney operators will forgo an increase in jeepney fares if they are granted the discount.
Last year, major transport groups staged several strikes to oppose the phase out of old jeepney units. The government vowed to provide financial assistance to jeepney drivers and operators but the transport groups said it only benefits transportation firms and cooperatives.
Labor groups Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino and Socialista have also announced a march on Monday, January 15, to call for the repeal of the TRAIN Law as prices of goods are expected to go up with an increase in fuel prices.
BMP, which has previously called the TRAIN Law “anti-poor”, said the march will be from Morayta in Manila to Mendiola Bridge. Mendiola, because of its proximity to the presidential palace, is commonly used as a venue for rallies and protests.
Protesting workers will use the march to call for an increase in wages to offset TRAIN’s impact on prices, which the government has said will be addressed by monthly releases of P200 to qualified beneficiaries.