MANILA - Transport group PISTON has threatened President Rodrigo Duterte over his jeepney modernization program and is set to backtrack on scrapping its transport strike, regulators alleged Monday.
PISTON on Sunday called off its planned Dec. 4 and 5 transport strike and said they would instead hold a protest caravan early Monday.
However, PISTON president George San Mateo, in an alleged text message inviting media to cover their rally, threatened to "drag off" President Rodrigo if he does not junk the modernization program, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) claimed.
"Winarningan nila allegedly si President Duterte na kapag hindi ibinasura ang phaseout, guguyurin nila, guguyurin ng mamamayan allegedly si Presidente," LTFRB spokesperson Atty. Aileen Lizada told DZMM.
(They allegedly warned President Duterte that is the jeepney phaseout is not scrapped, they would drag off, the citizens would drag off the President.)
Duterte in October also told operators and drivers that he would drag away their jeepneys if these are not registered and replaced with new units by year-end.
"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.
(You follow because by January 1, if I still see an unregistered jeep, I will have it dragged away in front of you)
TRANSPORT STRIKE STILL A GO?
Lizada added that PISTON would use their jeepneys in mounting the protest caravan instead of giving ferrying commuters, thus creating a "subtle" transport strike.
Transport officials and the police are monitoring the caravan that will make its way to Mendiola, Manila from Rotonda, Quezon City at 9 a.m., she said.
NO TRAFFIC PARALYSIS
San Mateo meanwhile said he only adopted Duterte's rhetoric in his text message to reporters.
"Hahatakin mo kami, e magagalit ang tao, baka ikaw ang hatakin... In short, ibinalik lang namin kay Presidente ang termino niya," he said in a separate DZMM interview.
(If you'll drag us away, the public would be enraged and you may become the one being dragged off. In short, we only echoed the President's terms back to him.)
He denied that their caravan would paralyze traffic in the metro.
"Ang jeep sa buong Metro Manila, umaabot ng 70,000. Kahit magdala kami ng 50 jeep pang-caravan, 'di naman mapa-paralyze ang public transport," he explained.
(There are some 70,000 jeeps in Metro Manila. Even if we bring 50 jeeps to our caravan, that will not paralyze public transport.)
PISTON, he said, looks forward to presenting alternative programs to the modernization program during a legislative hearing on Thursday, where Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade was invited.