Transport strike, protests and camp-out against jeepney phaseout push through despite state repression

This article is available in Pilipino

Amid relentless repression and intimidation by the Marcos regime’s agencies and forces, jeepney drivers and operators launched a 3-day transport strike and various forms of collective action since April 29 to May 1 to block the complete phaseout of jeepneys starting this May. The activities were led by the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) and No to PUV Phasoeut Coalition, and their chapters across the country.

At the beginning of the transport strike, April 29, the associations of drivers and operators, together with the youth and their supporters, set up strike centers in key areas in Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog.

On the first day, around 8,000 members of the National Capital Region Poice Office (NCRPO) were deployed to block jeepney routes and surround protest centers. A police blockade was brazenly set up inside the UP Diliman campus.

On April 29, Piston and their lawyers simultaneously submitted an additional petition to the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP). They specifically requested a stop to the newly issued decree of the Department of Transportation in December 2023 that required additional steps to the previous guidelines or rules in the implementation of the program.

According to Ruben Baylon, Deputy Secretary-General of Piston, on that day, the Supreme Court should understand that it is important to issue the TRO as soon as possible, especially since the consolidation deadline set by the LTFRB is the next day. “When the franchises and registrations of jeeps are canceled, that will seriously harm thousands of drivers and operators and millions of commuters,” he said.

On the afternoon of April 29, they set up a central camp in Liwasang Bonifacio that lasted until May 1, before participating in the International Labor Day protests. The youth joined in the camp that launched studies, discussions and solidarity programs with drivers and operators. There was also a people’s mass on April 30.

“Instead of supporting informal workers in public transportation, the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program worsens their condition. It prioritizes the profit and earnings of greedy people who endanger the future of drivers and operators,” Piston said.

Transport strikes and actions were also launched in Baguio City, Calamba, Sta. Rosa, and Cabuyao in Laguna, in Rizal, Legazpi City, Cebu City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City and Davao City.

LTFRB threat

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has threatened that it will order the arrest of the so-called “kolorum” jeepneys or those that do not comply with the compulsory consolidation starting the third week of May. It hypocritically granted drivers and operators an additional 15-day grace period to the April 30 mandatory consolidation deadline.

LTFRB data says nationwide consolidation of franchises has reached 81% or the equivalent of 160,000 units. It says it recorded only 10,000 jeepneys in the entire country that did not consolidate or are kolorum.

The agency is now pushing routes re-organization as the next step of the government’s bogus PUVMP.

Meanwhile, the Leaders Forum, which includes the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. and labor groups Centro, TUCP and FFW issued a statement of objection at the last minute. They say “the PUVMP will greatly affect the livelihood of many jeepney operators and drivers and their families.” They demand reviewing the PUVMP and suspending the deadline for the consolidation’s implementation.

AB: Transport strike, protests and camp-out against jeepney phaseout push through despite state repression