Cebu News

200 PUJ drivers support ‘strike’

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Mary Ruth R. Malinao - The Freeman
200 PUJ drivers support âstrikeâ
PISTON Cebu Chairman Greg Perez was quick to clarify that the half-day march is not a transport strike and they do not intend to paralize local public transportation.
File Photo

CEBU, Philippines — As estimated 200 members of militant transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) - Cebu will hit the streets starting at 8 a.m. to support the transport strike their counterparts in Manila will hold today.

PISTON Cebu Chairman Greg Perez was quick to clarify that the half-day march is not a transport strike and they do not intend to paralize local public transportation.

"Dili ni transport strike ning amoa diri sa Cebu; march rally lang ni (We will only have a march rally here, not a transport strike)," he said.

"Dili na namo tinguha nga mag transport paralysis kay ang among tuyo nga madungog sa gobyerno ang among dakung pagsupak anang PUV modernization (It is not our intention to paralize public transport here. We only want the government to hear our opposition to PUV modernization)," Perez said.

Perez said that aside from the drivers, the drivers' families, as well as members of cause-oriented groups, will join the march. It will start at SM City Cebu and head to the regional office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-7.

"Nanawagan pud mi sa ubang mga jeepney drivers ug mga operators nga mo suporta sa among march rally pero wala ni pugsanay kay lisud na mangapriso pud mi ana kung mamugos mi (We call on other jeepney drivers and operators to join the march but this is not compulsory because we will go to jail if we make it so)," Perez said.

LTFRB-7 Director Eduardo Montealto also warned that drivers who will force other drivers to join the march or who will engage in violence may see their franchise revoked.

PISTON's transport strike on Manila is still anchored on their opposition to the government’s move to phase out jeepneys that are at least 15 years old by 2020.

Perez said this program of government is very disadvantageous to small-time operators who cannot even afford to purchase brand new modern jeepneys.

"Dapat, kadtong nga jeepneys nga pwede pa magamit, bisan pila pa edad, kay padaganon lang gihapon, pero kadtong mga jeepneys nga dili na gyud madala og ayo, mao to ang angay i- phase out (Jeepneys that can still travel efficiency should still be allowed to travel, no matter how old they are. They should phase out only those that can no longer be fixed)," Perez said.

Passenger options

Minus PISTON’s members, there would still be an estimated 1,800 jeepneys that will ply the streets today.

LTFRB-7 and the Cebu City government, though, are not taking any chances.

LTFRB-7 said it has places 30 buses on standby in case commuting will be difficult today. Ten buses will be ready for deployment to the south and 10 others are ready for deployment to the north. Ten more will ply the city’s streets.

"In case these buses are not enough, we can deploy more buses because we only had an agreement with several bus companies that in case of contingencies, LTFRB will allow them to travel outside their usual routes without them paying the special permit fee," Montealto said.

Mayor Edgardo Labella said he has instructed the Department of Government Services (DGS) to prepare the city’s Kaohsiung buses.

“I will try to observe. If I feel that there is really a need, we will deploy Kaohsiung buses. I have already negotiated with some bus companies in case there is going to be a massive strike,” Labella said.

‘Golden age’

Earlier, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino said PUV modernization program is the start of the golden age of Cebu’s transportation system.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in partnership with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) have also opened more scholarship slots under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) project initiative dubbed as “Tsuper Iskolar” wherein drivers affected by the modernization program can learn new skills and get paid during the entire duration of the month-long training.

Dino has said that instead of complaining about the modernization program, drivers should, instead, look ahead and embrace the jeepney of the future that is environment-friendly and, above all, can give convenience to both drivers and commuters.

He said that aside from a more comfortable and safer ride, the public will be assured of the technology used in e-jeepneys, which are non-air pollutants, unlike existing public utility vehicles that emit carbon dioxide into the air. (FREEMAN)


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