Piston to hold nationwide strike as jeepney phaseout deadline nears

This article is available in Pilipino

Drivers and operators will once again conduct a two-day transport strike led by Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) on December 14-15. The group demands to scrap plans to phaseout jeepneys under the veil of the deceptive modernization program and mandatory franchise consolidation. The Marcos regime’s pronouncement last December 12 that the December 31 phaseout deadline will push through vindicated the objective of the transport strike, according to Piston.

Piston criticized Marcos’ statement that “70% of the operators consolidated” under the deceptive modernization program. The anti-driver Marcos regime even said that his government “will not allow the minority” to delay the program.

The group belied Marcos’ statement that 70% of drivers consolidated their franchise. “This number covers all the consolidated types of public utility vehicle (PUV) nationwide including buses. In the National Capital Region alone, only 26% of jeepneys have consolidated, while 36% of UV Express have consolidated.”

Piston emphasized that even data of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) indicated that approximately 33,224 jeepneys and UV Express in the entire National Capital Region will be not be ably to ply their routes if the deadline for the franchise consolidation pushes through.

“Nearly 70% of all jeepneys and 60% of all UV Express will be gone by January 2024,” Piston stated. The group belies DOTr and LTFRB’s claims that there will be no transport crisis as it enforces the phaseout of public utility vehicles.

“Who are they fooling? Even their own data proves that majority of the public vehicles will be gone by January because of their actions!” the group stated. This means that the livelihood of nearly 64,000 drivers and 25,000 operators in NCR will be jeopardized. It also means that nearly 20,000 families in NCR will go hungry and suffer from the government’s assertion to enforce the flawed program.

The group also noted that the government has no compelling reason to enforce the deadline. “They are further killing the people. It’s almost Christmas, and the Marcos Jr government brings nothing but difficulty and failure!” asserted Piston. The people will solely bear the burden of this planned “modernization.”

In the interest of foreign and local partners

Foreign capitalists and big local compradors behind the jeepney phaseout want to turn the country into dumping ground of “electric vehicles” (EV), or vehicles powered by electricity (instead of gasoline) stored in batteries. Colluding with the reactionary state, they speak of “environmental-friendliness” and “climate change mitigation” to justify the massacre of livelihood of small drivers and operators.

Among the biggest bourgeois compradors involved in “modernization” are the Aboitiz family that released COMET buses, Ramon Ang (San Miguel Corporation) who will open a $500M EV battery plant in Dinagat Islands, and Ayala who partnered with Kia Motors for marketing imported electric vehicles.

Marcos signed Executive Order 12 last January to grant “tax breaks” or exempt EV importation from tariffs. These vehicles, supposedly “cleaner,” will be used to replace traditional jeepneys. This order is supported in the National EV Roadmap which is already being framed and implemented by the Department of Energy. Under this, foreign manufacturers can more freely and more openly sell EVs in the country.

Marcos is in collusion with imperialist countries and banks such as the World Bank (funded primarily by the US) and the Asian Development Bank (funded primarily by Japan) in implementing the pseudo modernization program in transportation. US imperialism is the main driver of this program in its push to claim a large share in the global electric vehicle market, alongside rising investments in “clean” energy production. In May, the US announced plans to invest $5 million in operations to extract minerals for the production of electric vehicles and other equipment.

The “pro-environment” stance of the Marcos regime and its foreign and local capitalist associates, who are, in fact, among the biggest environmental polluters, is utterly bogus. While investing in purportedly “clean energy,” Aboitiz and San Miguel also operate the largest “dirty energy” plants that produce 54% of the country’s entire carbon emissions.

AB: Piston to hold nationwide strike as jeepney phaseout deadline nears