MANILA - Sen. Grace Poe on Saturday urged transport groups to call off their plan to mount a two-day transport strike next week as she sought a dialogue to address their concerns about the government's jeepney modernization program.
In a statement, Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said she would call for an urgent hearing on Dec. 7 in a bid to address issues surrounding the planned modernization, which could mean a phaseout of current jeepney models.
“I understand that certain issues in the modernization program still need to be carefully studied and threshed out with the concerned government agencies…We also want to hear the alternative proposals from different stakeholders,” she said.
Poe is set to file a resolution Monday seeking the committee hearing.
Transport groups earlier this week called for a nationwide transport strike on Monday and Tuesday as they continued to oppose the government’s jeepney modernization program, which they claim is motivated by business interests and greed.
Under the plan, public utility jeepneys would be replaced with newer models, prototypes of which include electronic jeep units.
Transport groups have been contending that they would be unable to afford the modernized jeepneys, which cost between P1.3 million and P1.6 million.
But views on this are mixed within the sector as the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations of the Philippines earlier said that drivers and operators can afford the new jeepney models.
In October, jeepney operators and drivers also staged a two-day strike to protest the plan, causing difficulties for commuters and leading to the closure of financial markets.
They pushed through with their strike despite warnings by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that it would cancel the franchises of those who would join the protest. President Rodrigo Duterte also said he would have those who flout the plan arrested.
"I'm giving you until the end of the year, sumunod kayo kasi January 1, kapag may nakita ako na hindi narehistro, luma, guguyurin ko 'yan sa harap niyo," Duterte said.
“Aarestuhin ko talaga kayo, believe me… You give me now the reason to enforce the law…Mahirap kayo? P****g i*a, umalis kayo. Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam.”
Following the announcement of another strike, classes in some parts of the country on Monday have been cancelled.