MANILA — Jeepney drivers and operators should stop using transport strikes to force the government to give in to their demands, Pasang Masda President Obet Martin said on Tuesday.
Transport strikes should only be done when the government is snubbing the sector’s pleas, Martin told state television PTV.
“Ang transport holiday ay hindi solusyon para makuha natin ang ating mga pangangailangan,” he said.
“Even jeepney drivers pagod na sila. Ang masama diyan ay kung hindi sila hinaharap, eh hinaharap naman sila,” he said, noting that Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista has been attending dialogues with public utility drivers.
“Hindi ko sinasabing kamping-kampi ako sa gobyerno pero inuunawa, iniintindi tayo… ano pa ang kailangan natin,” he added.
After transport group PISTON’s 3-day strike this week, Manibela — another transport group — announced that its members would hold a transport holiday from November 22 to 24 in protest of the government’s jeepney modernization program.
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.
Martin claimed that Malacañang guaranteed that it would ease several modernization rules, including the lifting of a ban on the sale and transfer of new units, as well as the grant of fuel subsidies for transport cooperatives.
There are 5 other demands from transport groups that the government is still studying, the Pasang Masda chief said.
“Hindi naman puwedeng pagsabay sabayin na ibigay yung kanilang mga pangangailangan dahil ito ay masusing pinag aaralan,” Martin said.
“Ang gusto nila out right na ibibigay palagay ko ay hindi makatao at hindi makatarungan,” he said.
Martin said he is confident that the transportation strikes would not last for days, underscoring that jeepney drivers need to earn for their families too.
“Isang araw lang ang driver na hindi mamasada, magugutom na po yan. Paano nila susuportahan ang kanilang mga pamilya,” he said.
“Ang commuters din nagsasabi na, ‘Everytime ba na hindi niyo makuha ang demand ninyo kami ang magsasakripisyo?’”