The reason behind the nationwide transport strike
The nationwide transport strike led by different transport groups and mass organizations is a protest to the proposed jeepneys and UV Express vehicles phaseout next year.
Despite the appeal of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to call off the strike, warning drivers with suspension or revocation of their franchise, the strike pushed through yesterday, September 30.
What are they fighting for?
The nationwide transport strike is an appeal against the immediate phaseout of jeepneys and UV Express vehicles The phaseout of jeepneys and UV Express vehicles is in line with the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program proposed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on June 19, 2017.
The PUV modernization is a program that aims for safe, comfortable, and environmentally sustainable public utility vehicles as mode of transportation. It seeks to replace old jeepneys with modern jeepneys that have eco-friendly engines which will cost around P1.2 million to P1.6 million per unit.
Opposers leading the strike see the modernization program as disadvantageous to the livelihood of drivers due to the cost of modern jeepneys. The strike is the transport sector’s call for protest against the jeepney phaseout that would happen next year in line with the PUV modernization program.
LOOK: Protesting against jeepney phaseout, Piston, Gabriela-ST, Bayan Cavite, Anakbayan Kalayaan, and other mass organizations gather at Zapote Flyover, Las Piñas, earlier today in line of the nationwide transport strike. pic.twitter.com/4qkRk6xrX0
— Heraldo Filipino (@heraldofilipino) September 30, 2019
Why was there a need for a strike?
There is an importance in knowing the story behind the nationwide transport strike. The current nationwide transport strike brings awareness about the struggles that the transport sector is facing regarding the proposed changes in the PUV Modernization Program.
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spokesperson Celine Pialago responded to the strike stating that: “They were not successful. The government will never allow them to be successful.”
“The purpose behind the strike is to disrupt in order to call attention to an issue,” explained Renato Reyes Jr., an activist critical of the program, saying that the suspension of classes means their strike was successful. He has also been proposing that there can be adjustments to give consideration to the drivers.
Imposible ba ang locally manufactured jeepney units na kayang gawing mas mura in the long-run, habang nakakapaglikha ng trabaho para sa mga Pilipino? Bakit tayo mag-iimport ng mga units mula China o Korea?
— Renato Reyes, Jr. (@natoreyes) October 1, 2019
With the modernization of public utility vehicles arises the issue of monopoly. The reform of the public transportation system through the modernization. This puts the control of the transport sector to private corporations through the proposed modern jeepneys. This shift could possibly put the transport sector at a disadvantage as it threatens their livelihood and could place them in debt due to the cost of replacing old jeepneys with modern jeepneys. A rise in fare prices could also be an effect of modernization considering how the maintenance of the proposed modern jeepneys possibly costs a lot more, putting the public who uses public transportation at a disadvantage as well.
Despite all the efforts to be heard, DOTr is undeterred to push the program through.
“Past administrations wanted to modernize transportation, but every time people wave flags saying that the program is anti-poor, they take a step back. This has to stop,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said, insisting people to consider “common good.”
“Break that and I will fight you. Modernization should be implemented now.”
The issue regarding the modernization of public utility vehicles encompasses the concern of the public. Through the nationwide transport strike, we see how the possible changes in the public transportation system could affect different sectors of society, especially the transport sector and commuters.
In this dispute, it’s not a matter between the environment and transportation, but a matter of determining the solution that suits a longer, sustainable, and humane ride to common good.