Why Piston-Cebu joined transport strike
CEBU CITY, Philippines — As early as 6 a.m. on Wednesday, November 22, members of the Cebu Chapter of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) gathered in four different locations to participate in the nationwide transportation strike.
The top reasons for their protest that was participated by more or less a hundred drivers and operators in Cebu were the franchise consolidation requirement and the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization.
On Wednesday morning, the Piston members stationed in three locations in Cebu City—P. del Rosario corner Osmeña Blvd; in M.C. Briones corner Juan Luna Street (near SM City Cebu); in front of a hotel in Gorordo Ave. corner Escario St.; and in front of a mall in U.N. Avenue in Mandaue City.
‘No to PUV phase-out’
Bringing their protest materials where their plights were written, Piston members echoed their “no to jeepney/PUV phase out” and “bring back the 5-year franchise” concerns among others.
At around 12 noon, they huddled in front of the office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB-7), where they also wrote their “no PUV phase out” call on the wall outside the agency’s gate.
Greg Perez, president of Piston-Cebu, told CDN Digital that they were against the PUV modernization because they described it as a “failure.”
“Gibansagan nato nga palpak nga programa tungod nga pugson gyud nila ang mga operators nga musulod sa mga kooperatiba. Ang mahitabo man gud sa panahon nga masulod ta sa kooperatiba, automatic i-surrender sa mga operator ilang mga prangkisa,” Perez said.
(We labeled the program as a failure because they force the operators to join a cooperative. What will happen at the time when one will join a cooperative, automatic, the operator will surrender their franchises.)
According to him, this would mean that registering into cooperatives would mean a phase-out.
In a separate interview with LTFRB-7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr., he assured that there would be no phase-out happening on December 31 which is the deadline for franchise consolidation.
“Consolidation man gud ang usa sa major components sa atong modernization. [Sa] consolidation, didto ang imong eligibility to apply for loan sa atong mga government banks,” Montealto said.
(Consolidation is one of the major components of our modernization. In consolidation, there can have eligibility to apply for a loan from our government banks.)
Moreover, LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III said in a statement on November 20, that no driver or operator could lose their jobs with the modernization program.
“Walang maiiwan sa PUV Modernization Program ng ating pamahalaan. Walang driver o operator ang mawawalan ng pangkabuhayan dahil hindi po sapilitan ang pagmodernize ng inyong jeep. Isa lang po ang ating prayoridad, ang kaligtasan ng ating mga commuters, kaya kung ang jeepneys po ninyo ay ‘roadworthy’ kasama po namin kayo sa PUV Modernization Program,” Guadiz said.
(No one will be left behind in the government’s PUV modernization program. No driver or operator will lose his livelihood because to modernize your jeep is not being forced on you. We only have one priority, the safety of our commuters, so if your jeepneys are ‘roadworthy’ then you are with us in the PUV Modernization Program.)
Background of modernization
LTFRB has issued Memorandum Circular 2023-013 which gives PUV operators until June 30, 2023, to join an existing consolidated entity, otherwise, they will no longer be allowed to continue their operations.
The agency, however, said that they were also open to the possibility of extending the validity of franchises that were issued to traditional jeepneys beyond December 31 to ensure the availability of sufficient public transport.
But PUJ drivers continue to oppose the government’s modernization program which would lead to the loss of their livelihood.
As of writing, in Central Visayas, the LTFRB-7 recorded 70 transport cooperatives here, and more than 1,300 modern jeepneys (the majority of which are in Cebu), and 2,800 traditional jeepneys.
Piston respects transport coops’ decision
Meanwhile, Perez said that he respected those transport cooperatives who chose not to participate in the strike.
“Ato nang gina-respeto. Bisan gani sa among mga miyembro, wala mi gapugos nga musalmot gyud sa strike,” he said.
(We respect that. Even among our members, we did not force them to join the strike.)
Nevertheless, Montealto said that the strike did not have a negative effect on the commuters.
“Ang protest rally, katungod sad na nila aron matimbang-timbang gyud unsa ilahang views,” the LTFRB-7 director said.
(The protest rally is also their right so that they can share and assess their views.)
On the other hand, despite the the transport strike, commuters said that it did not have an impact on them.
According to Alexa Ocariza, a commuter, the strike had no effect on their commute as there were still available jeepneys for them to ride.
“Normal ra, wala gani ko kahibalo nga naay gastrike early in the morning, not until nakakita ko,” she said.
(It was jut normal. I did not even know that there was a strike early in the morning, not until I saw them.)
Similarly, Hunny Medina, who was also another commuter, said that despite the ongoing transport strike, she did not experience any noticeable difference in transportation and traffic.
As for their assessment, the Piston-Cebu president told CDN Digital that their protest was a success, despite knowing that there might be people who did not care about their activity.
“The important thing is that we were able to present our concerns to the public today,” Perez said in Cebuano.
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