MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday defended its suspension of classes at all levels in Metro Manila despite the absence of a transport strike and even as many students are now having their final exams before they take the summer break.
The Palace has drawn flak for suspending classes even though transport group Piston was no longer holding a transport strike. It was also criticized for releasing the suspension memo before noon Tuesday, when some students were already in school, even though it was already signed the night before.
The memorandum circular said the suspension was aimed at minimizing inconvenience to the riding public.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, said in a statement the suspension was to address “imminent threats posed by some groups.”
In a press briefing, Roque explained that students who will be forced to walk the streets because of a transport strike would be exposed to dangers.
“Well, iyan pong mga threats na iyan nanggagaling kapag walang masakyan ang ating mga kabataan. So iyon po ang ating iniwasan. At hindi po mag-aatubili ang Presidente na suspindihin na naman ang klase kung sila ay magbabanta na naman ng transport strike,” Roque said.
“Finals or no finals, kapag wala pong masasakyan, walang masasakyan at magkakaroon ng posibleng mga aberya. Iyan po ang punto de-vista ng ating Presidente.”
Piston President George San Mateo accused Malacañang of inciting fear and panic among citizens so they would direct their anger towards the transport group, which is protesting the government’s public transportation modernization program which entails the scrapping of old jeepneys.
He denied that his group scheduled another transport strike this week following their protest action on Monday, the first for this year.
“Maayos na nakapasok kaninang umaga ang mga estudyante bago kinansela ng Malacanan ngayong hapon ang klase. Ang Palasyo ang nampeperwisyo sa mga estudyante at mamamayan, hindi ang mga drivers. Gusto ng Palasyo na alisan o siraan ang legitimacy ng pagtutol at paglaban ng mga drivers laban sa jeepney phaseout at corporate capture sa public transport na nakapaloob sa pekeng negosyong modernization ni Duterte,” San Mateo said in a statement.
“Naghahasik ng fake news ang Malacañang upang magpaypay ng galit sa mga drivers at likhain ang atmosphere sa pag-crackdown sa mga lehitimong protesta ng mga drivers at mamamayan.”