MANILA -- Transport group PISTON expects to paralyze public transport in several provinces and cities on October 16 and 17, its president said on Sunday.
The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) said thousands of jeepney operators and drivers will be joining their strike in Isabela province, Metro Baguio, Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna, Quezon, Batangas, Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Masbate, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Iligan, Bukidnon, Gensan, Davao City, Butuan City and the Surigao provinces.
PISTON national president George San Mateo said they are holding the strike because the 600,000 jeepney drivers and operators stand to lose their livelihood in the government's jeepney modernization program.
"Ang dinesenyong programa ng gobyerno ay hindi talaga kakayanin ng ating maliliit na operator," San Mateo said in an interview with ANC's "Dateline."
He also denied that the strike was part of an attempt to destabilize the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Huwag niyang pulitikahin itong isyu na 'to. Itong isyu na 'to ay legitimate strike ng mga driver at operator against dito sa pag-attempt ng gobyerno na alisan ng kabuhayan ang maliliit na driver at operator at ibaon kami sa utang," San Mateo said.
Malacañang has suspended classes in all levels and work in all government offices nationwide because of the transport strike.
In Cebu, around 200 members of PISTON-Cebu will join the nationwide strike with jeepney drivers, mostly from the cities of Mandaue, Lapulapu and Cebu, to converge in downtown Cebu for a brief program on Monday noontime.
PISTON-Cebu coordinator Greg Perez has asked for public understanding as the activity may affect some commuters.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB-7) has approved special permits for 20 bus units to ply the major thoroughfares in Metro Cebu to transport stranded passengers.
The local government of Cebu City is also providing free bus rides at the South Road Properties (SRP).
Governor Hilario Davide III declared the suspension of classes for both public and private schools, including work for government offices following Malacanang's announcement.
Private establishments are given the discretion. -- with report from Joworski Alipon, ABS-CBN News Cebu