MANILA — PISTON's 3-day transport strike from Monday next week will push through despite an appeal from authorities to call it off, its head said on Saturday.
Some 100,000 members of PISTON and their local federations will participate in the transport strike, which aims to express their concerns over a government plan to upgrade the public transportation secto, said Mody Floranda, PISTON president.
Operators and drivers have said replacing traditional jeepneys will be expensive and that the program favors corporations and large cooperatives over smaller operations.
Floranda added that they would not be against the proposed consolidation if the government promises operators would still own their franchise under the modernization program.
Authorities have cautioned that strikers may have their franchises revoked, a position that PISTON says violates their right to strike and seek redress from government.
"Isu-surrender namin ang aming mga prangkisa sa LTFRB at mula kaming mag-aapply ng corporation o kooperatiba. Sa ilalim ng korporasyon, alam naman nating hindi ito basta-bastang maitatayo kung wala kang malaking kapital," Floranda said over Teleradyo Serbisyo.
"Tayo ay bukas sa usapin ng kooperatiba kung [ito] ay sinasabi nating... indibidwal na prangkisa o indibidwal na pag-aari ng kanilang mga unit," he said.
"Ngayon sa ilalim ng modernization program ay hindi pag-aari ng indibidwal na operator ang kanilang mga unit at hindi nakapangalan sa kanila kaya malaking kinakaharap ng mga operator at nangangamba sila sa ganitong programa," he added.
PISTON noted that the guidelines under the transport modernization program were not reassuring.
Even if jeepney drivers apply to become a corporation or cooperative, he said, there was no guarantee that they will get back on the road because of the cost.
Around P40 million will be needed for the consolidation of 15 units alone, he said.
"Siyempre sa usapin ng — alam naman natin na tayo ay naglo-loan sa bangko. Kailangan mayroon kang collateral lalo na sa malaking amount sa iyong ilo-loan sa bangko," he said.
"Saan 'yan kukunin ng isang maliit na corporation o ng isang maliit na kooperatiba?" he said.
Consolidation is considered the "first component" of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.
Authorities earlier clarified that traditional jeepneys would still be allowed to ply the roads as long as they joined a cooperative or corporation.
Transport regulators also said that the consolidation of operators into coops or corporations is not synonymous with phaseout, which would take place much later in the implementation of the 10-component modernization plan.
Apart from issues with consolidation, PISTON earlier argued that it would be less expensive to just upgrade their existing jeepneys to make them more fuel efficient and environment friendly instead of buying new units.
Some drivers and operators also argued that "modern jeepneys" are too expensive and will deprive single-unit operators of route franchises that will then go to big corporations and to transport cooperatives.