By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Lawyer Aileen Lizada, board member and spokesperson of Land Transportation and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), issued threats against the drivers and operators joining today’s transport strike even as she belittled the capability of the transport groups to succeed.
In phone interviews broadcasted live in the country’s two major TV stations early morning of October 16, she reiterated that they have filed charges three weeks ago against George San Mateo, national president of Pagkakaisa ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), one of the major transport groups leading the today and tomorrow’s planned strike. Lizada said San Mateo is being charged for his efforts to encourage drivers to hold a strike.
She belittled the capability of the transport strikers to paralyze public transport. Lizada claimed that the most recent transport strike, which she said was led by Piston, had paralyzed a mere 0.3 of public transport. But that strike was not led by Piston but by Stop Go, whose leader had said last month that they did not intend to paralyze but simply deliver their opposition to jeepney phaseout.
If today’s transport strikers have no capability to paralyze transport, why the class suspension then? San Mateo of Piston said the Duterte administration’s announcement October 15 of suspending school classes and public offices nationwide is a sign that it recognizes that “the drivers and operators’ strike and demands are just.”
He told Bulatlat in previous interviews that President Duterte had, in fact, told them to go on a strike if they are indeed opposed to the jeepney phaseout. He said that was what Duterte told them in a dialogue with workers last June 18.
The two-day strike led by Piston and No To Jeepney Phaseout Coalition is demanding for what it calls “people-centered jeepney modernization.” It opposes the government’s program that will forcibly scrap today’s jeepneys in favor of the P1.6 million to P1.8 million jeepneys the government proposes as an alternative. At the same time, the strikers oppose the forcible imposition of the fleet management system of running the jeepney transportation – a move which Piston and advocate groups describe as a forcible transfer of jeepney transportation to corporations.
Lizada declined to comment yet on whether it is correct or not to have suspended classes and public offices due to the transport strike. “It’s not the LTFRB that suspended the classes,” Lizada said.
She praises the non-strikers and announced a P80,000 subsidy for driver-operators buying the new jeeps. It was the first time for some members of Piston to hear the said subsidy. It is 7 percent of the P1.2-million price tag of the new jeep.
However, most jeepney drivers interviewed by Bulatlat would still rather ‘modernize’ their current jeeps rather than scrap it all. They said the jeepneys today are in such a condition that it can be rehabilitated. That it makes more sense to pick it apart and replace what needs replacing than scrap it all.
Lizada said they want the drivers to own their jeepney. She did not mention the fleet management system under their program.