MANILA (UPDATED) - Irked by the nationwide transport strikes, President Rodrigo Duterte has set a deadline to operators and transport groups to modernize jeepneys by year-end or else face arrest.
“I’m giving you… until the end of the year, sumunod kayo kasi January 1, kapag may nakita ako na hindi na-rehistro, luma, guguyurin ko yan sa harap niyo,” he said.
“Aarestuhin ko talaga kayo, believe me… You give me now the reason to enforce the law,” he added.
The 2-day transport strike prompted the government to suspend classes nationwide and work in offices under the executive branch.
Duterte said jeepney modernization was long overdue, adding past administrations failed to launch it because of strong opposition from jeepney drivers and operators.
“Sa panahon ko, sabay tayong mag-strike,” he said.
He also had strong words against jeepney drivers who would continue to oppose the government’s policy.
“Sa January 1, kapag hindi niyo na-modernize yan, umalis kayo,” he said.
“Mahirap kayo? P****g i*a, umalis kayo. Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam. It’s the majority of the people, huwag niyong ipasubo ang tao,” he added
Duterte added it was time operators comply with the jeepney modernization program to ensure public road safety and public health.
“Kapag may sinabi ang gobyerno to protect public interest, kailagan sundin natin. If we fail, it means more money for lung cancers and respiratory diseases,” he said.
“Ang mga anak natin maging bobo, standstill ang traffic, it does not move and all the time, people of the Philippines are inhaling the fumes.”
STRIKES AS REBELLION?
Duterte also said Piston has links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the group was committing rebellion, along with other leftist groups, by leading a nationwide transport strike.
“Ako nagsasabi ng totoo, itonng Karapatan, KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno), Piston, they are just the legal fronts of the CPP. It’s one big conspiracy, all of them are committing right now rebellion,” Duterte said in a speech in Camarines Sur.
On Monday and Tuesday, Piston led a nationwide transport strike to protest the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) modernization program which they say will bury jeepney drivers and operators in debt.
Finance officials have allocated a P2.2 billion subsidy for the PUV modernization program, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) earlier said.
The LTFRB said, by holding the 2-day strike, the transport group was destablizing the government. The agency has also threatened to revoke the franchise of jeepney drivers who participated in the protests.
Piston President George San Mateo, meanwhile, demanded that Duterte give them an audience, otherwise they will be forced to go on strike every month.
The President seemed unperturbed by the strikes, however.
“Ako naman, sige, eh ‘di mag-demonstrate kayo. Even if you do that twice, thrice a month. Bigyan ko kayo isang buwan,” he said.