Transport strike: Economic sabotage
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - October 15, 2018 - 12:00am

Globally, there are so many contentious issues at hand. Extremism is one and the trade war between two economic giants in the USA and China is another. Worse, with the economic sanctions on Iran taking place, a lot more are yet to come.

Among these contentious issues, fuel prices will always top the list. Why? Basic need, as it is, we are all affected by it regardless of whether the prices swing mildly or wildly and favorably or unfavorably. The bottom line is, in every swing, some profit while the rest just simply pay for it. Simply put, depending on which direction it goes, one loses, another one gains.

With these increases in global prices of oil coupled with the peso’s weakness against the US dollar, local retail prices have been doubly hit. Collectively, with these two scenarios prevailing, fuel prices are already sickening. Worse, in huge metropolis like Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, where traffic jams double ones fuel consumption, oil-related miseries are becoming so unbearable.

However, driven by greed, there are circumstances wherein certain sectors refuse to be fair and cash in or take advantage in all situations. These are the oil retailers and the public transport operators. As we all know, when global oil prices go up, automatically, oil retailers raise their prices not later than tomorrow. As if they just purchased their inventories today.  Knowing fully well that our supplies are all imported, it shall take, at least, two weeks to arrive.  Therefore, raising it right away has no basis at all. When prices go down, these same retailers do not reduce prices automatically. Well, logically, because what they have in their tanks were purchased when prices were still high. Simply put, they come straight when prices go down but are cheats when prices go up.

Similarly, when fuel prices go up, jeepney operators/drivers, automatically demand for fare increases, as if the commuters do not suffer already from the consequences of it. As everything, supposedly, goes through a process, they go on strike to pressure regulators to raise fares right away and to the inconvenience of the commuting public. Inversely, when fuel prices go down, they refuse to bring the fares down proportionately. Selfishly, they would like to go through the long process and enjoy the drop in fuel prices to the hilt.

In all these and similar situations, jeepney drivers have always remained adamant. They even went on strike countless of times when their unreasonable demands (such as, oil price related issues, the administrative order increasing fines, modernization program) were not heeded. Obviously, a blatant display of arrogance of people whose undertakings thrive under a certificate of public convenience.

Remember, in all these transport strikes, we’ve always been in the receiving end of these utility operators’ and drivers’ shenanigans. Obviously infiltrated with ideologues, then, these bunch of bullies were harassing sensible drivers who continued to ply their routes.  Feeling ignored, these thugs resorted to throwing metal spikes in the middle of the road to incapacitate the non-striking drivers’ units.

Consequently, classes were suspended. Some workers arrived late and others went on leave. As the days ended, long queues in several intersections were ordinary sights. Carbon and other satellite markets’ crowds were relatively scarce as most diehard patrons were immobilized.

Sadists that they were, these ruffians rejoiced in all those inconveniences we were in.  They were trumpeting here and there about how successful the transport strikes were. They rejoiced without realizing that in doing so, they successfully pulled the school children several days back to illiteracy and further impoverished the families of ordinary employees who were not able to earn for days.

Such strikes did not only bring us inconceivable discomforts. It also dealt us immeasurable losses brought about by economic inactivity.

Indeed, an economic sabotage.

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