“The police wanted to make a statement and terrorize the people especially those critical of government programs such as the bogus jeepney modernization.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Piston President George San Mateo was about to post bail at the Quezon City Hall of Justice, accompanied by ACT Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio and Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao, when he was met by an arresting team of the Quezon City Police District.
The police apprehended San Mateo right at the steps of Quezon City Hall of Justice. They handcuffed him and dragged him to a police van. A commotion ensued before San Mateo was brought to the Quezon City Police Station 10 where the police took his mugshot and fingerprints before allowing him to return to the Hall of Justice to post bail.
At the Hall of Justice, San Mateo’s supporters and colleagues from Piston had to wait for a judge. He finally was able to post bail and receive his release order less than an hour before the court offices closed.
The arresting team then whisked San Mateo back to their police station in EDSA, Kamuning to process the release.
The warrant of arrest against San Mateo was issued by Presiding Judge Don Ace Alagar of Quezon City Metropolitan Court Branch 43. Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) spokesperson Aileen Lizada previously said they filed a complaint in court against San Mateo for his role in leading and encouraging drivers of public utility vehicles to go on a strike. San Mateo was charged with violation of Commonwealth Act no. 146 or the Public Service Law. His bail was set bail at P4,000.
Victor Jaime Topacio, San Mateo’s legal counsel, told reporters the law used to file charges against the transport leader was a 1934 law. He said there was no jeepneys yet at the time.
As national president of Piston, San Mateo has been in the thick of activities for the transport strikes. Lizada has belittled these strikes but she has been visibly miffed by opponents of the jeepney phaseout.
The Department of Transportation has been pushing the jeepney phaseout plan, which it calls “modernization.” Jeepney drivers describe the program as bogus modernization and just a government marketing scheme for new, expensive yet untried jeepneys.
The drivers are critical of the provision setting a required minimum of 10 jeepneys per operator, in order that a franchise would be issued, as well as making them enter the jeepneys under fleet management schemes.
Transport groups allied with Piston said it is anti-poor not just because they stand to lose their livelihood, but also because it would result in higher fares.
Steve Ranjo of Piston said the manner by which the arrest of San Mateo was conducted by the police was a statement in itself.