Piston-Manibela 'joint transport strike' to last until December 22

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Piston-Manibela 'joint transport strike' to last until December 22
A photo of the main protest center for the 2-day joint strike of Piston and Manibela this morning, December 21, 2023
Released / Defend Jobs Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — Transport groups Piston and Manibela started their "joint tigil-pasada" this Thursday to protest the impending loss of livelihood for thousands of jeepney and UV Express workers starting January 2024.

Piston national president Mody Floranda and Mar Valbuena announced the two-day strike following the filing of a petition for certioary and prohibition against the December 31 deadline for consolidation of public utility vehicles (PUVs) into cooperatives and corporations.

"From 5 a.m... let's ensure the paralyzation in all routes in the National Capital Region, and other provinces should follow suit," said Floranda in a speech in Filipino last Wednesday.

"On [December] 21 to 22, let's make sure that we're on the streets. Drivers, operators and their families should go out of their homes to join camp outs to show the administration our utter condemnation to their wrong policies, especially in light with the December 31 [deadline] where we will be robbed of our livelihood."


The main strike centers are said to be situated in the following areas:

  • Monumento Circle, Caloocan
  • Pasig Palengke (terminal behind McDo & Jollibee, Caruncho Ave)
  • Alabang City Terminal

This comes days after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) signed the controversial Memorandum Circular 2023-051 which will prohibit unconsolidated PUVs from operating starting 2024.

Piston earlier said that around 140,000 drivers and 60,000 operators nationwide are about to be economically displaced next year since 64,639 PUJs (43%) and 6,756 UVE units (35%) are yet to be consolidated.

The government is pushing for said consolidation before completing its PUV Modernization Program, which will require drivers and operators to transition into more environmentally friendly minibuses and e-jeeps within 27 months after the deadline.

These PUVMP, will ultimatately phase out traditional jeepneys in the long run. Transport groups, however, claimed that modern minibuses costing over P2 million per unit will bury them in debt since the LTFRB will only provide a subsidy of P160,000.

'Differences in association not an issue'

"This is the time. We are no longer talking about what association or federation you're in," said Floranda, stating that they and Manibela are in this fight together.

"The main issue is livelihood of all drivers and operators and service for the public. So it's high time for us to be united... Join the transport strike."

Valbuena, on the other hand, enjoined all groups and individuals to link arms with them.

He also said that affected drivers should protest on the streets instead of merely staying at home ("welgang bahay.")

"Regardless if you're from Manibela, Piston, Fejodap, whoever you are, as long as you know you're affected, let's unite," said Valbuena.

"This is so we could convey our hopes, our grievances, the heat of our struggle so that we get to keep our jobs."

Students encourage drivers to go on strike

Students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) earlier skipped their classes despite final exams and online classes to campaign against the PUV phaseout alongside drivers in jeepney terminals in Sta. Mesa and Manila area.

This covered San Juan, Bagumbayan, Pureza, Lagmay, Vicente Cruz and Nagtahan and other areas. According to Kabataan party-list yesterday, the students encouraged drivers to join the strike while explaining to commuters the importance of supporting the campaign to protect affordable public transport.

"It's so insensitive," stated PUP Taguig student Kashmir Cabides.

"If there's anyone hostaging livelihood and the public, it's the government and not the [striking] drivers."

Economic think tank IBON Foundation earlier said that the government's modernization program, in its present form, could potentially hike jeepney fares from 300% to 400% to offset the high cost of more expensive jeepneys and maintenance.

IBON executive director Sonny Africa said that the only way to keep fares accessible while modernizing is for the government to subsidize the purchase of whole units, alongside maintenance costs and giving affordable capital.

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