By Kilusang Mayo Uno
Today we go on strike! We, Public Utility Jeepney drivers, operators and commuters, demand that the Duterte government junk its corporate monopoly-driven jeepney phase-out program and instead adopt a modernization program geared towards a nationalized mass transport system that is beneficial to drivers, operators and the riding public.
Duterte’s phase-out scheme through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines aims to turn our PUJs to another MRT-LRT, a government abandoned mass transport system that has become a milking cow of the monopoly of profit greedy big businesses and corrupt government officials.
The phase-out scheme will displace over a million Filipinos in the PUJ industry, drivers, operators and other PUJ based informal workers. No small operator and driver can come up with over 30 million pesos required capital to purchase new units and apply for a franchise. The government’s much hyped subsidy of 80,000 per unit will only bury us in deep debts we can never repay.
It would also burden our commuters with minimum fares rising up to 20 pesos and deregulated fare hikes through the Ayala owned Beep Automated Fare Collection System. It will also cause gross inconvenience to commuters due to a profit-oriented route rationalization scheme.
Our basis and demands to strike are just and legitimate. We will not be intimidated by the Duterte government’s threats and intrigues to undermine our 2-day nationwide strike against his anti-poor and pro-big business phase-out scheme.
Instead of heeding our demands, the government has been building-up a scenario of “destabilization” to justify their harsh or even violent response towards our just and legitimate demands. Duterte is the one destabilizing himself by implementing anti-people policies that earns him the ire of Filipino workers and people.
Amidst their threats and intrigues slurred by the Duterte government through the DOTr and the LTFRB to pit drivers and operators against commuters, it remains clear that this government is hell-bent on displacing drivers and operators and on burdening commuters to complete the monopoly take-over of our country’s mass transport system by Duterte’s big business cronies, the Ayalas, Pangilinans and Cojuangcos, and foreign auto-industry giants Toyota, Mitsubishi and General Motors.