By MARYA SALAMAT
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MANILA — “Our transport strike is a success.”
Thus said Task Force July 13, a transport group coalition, at the conclusion of the day-long strike it led in selected Metro Manila routes and regions outside the national capital. Through the strike, they said, they were able to register their protest against the overpricing of petroleum products by the oil companies, particularly the so-called Big Three, and their connivance with the Arroyo regime.
The protest was also directed against Department of Transportation and Communication Orders 38 and 39, which jeepney drivers have labeled as “kotong” (bribery) orders.
In Metro Manila, the Task Force July 13 reported that they achieved 70 to 80 percent paralysis at the peak of the transport strike on Monday, particularly in areas where their organizations are strongest. The police downplayed the extent of the strike in Metro Manila, reporting that the public was irked.
In areas outside the capital, public transport was 80 percent to fully paralyzed, according to the task force.
In Southern Tagalog and in Bicol, transport was 80-percent paralyzed despite the early morning shooting of Condor-Piston-Bicol leader Joel Ascutia.
The regional affiliate of Piston in Region 10, Solidarity of Transport Alliance in Region 10 (Starex), reported a 90-percent participation in the strike in Cagayan de Oro City. The strike prompted several schools and establishments to close for the day.
In Gingoog City, all public utility jeepneys and 70 percent of motorcycle drivers joined the strike. Although classes were not suspended in Gingoog, few students attended, said Albert Castro, coordinator of Starex in Gingoog.
Drivers in Iligan City reportedly struck, too, in response to Starex’s call, and were able to paralyze 80 percent of operating public utility vehicles. Multi-sectoral groups under Bayan held a rally and noise barrage in Iligan City in support of the protesting transport sector.
In Davao City, Transmission-Piston said at least 26 routes out of about 50 jeepney routes supported the transport strike.
In General Santos City, 95 percent of the members of Tires-Piston joined the strike and picketed in front of the Land Transportation Office.
Edil Gonzaga, Transmission-Piston secretary-general, said the oil companies are overpricing diesel by P9.08, kerosene P12.12, unleaded gasoline P3.09 and every tank of LPG or liquefied petroleum gas by P51.36.
The protesters regarded as initial victory the declaration of independent player UniOil that it will rollback its gasoline by P4.75, diesel by P3.50 and kerosene by P1.50. “We hope these amounts will get bigger and, more importantly, that the Big Three will follow suit,” the task force said.
“We know the Big Three and the Arroyo regime will not easily give in to our demands,” the group said. They promised to continue to launch more successful protest actions in the future. (Bulatlat.com)