By Alexandria Dennise San Juan, October 8 2018; Manila Bulletin
Image Credit to Manila Bulletin
Transport regulators warned jeepney operators and drivers that sanctions await them should they join the nationwide transport strike planning to be staged by some transport groups to protest increasing fuel prices.
In a joint statement of the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, it said they will not tolerate any strike that transport groups will hold.
“We will not tolerate any transport strike. We will make sure that the rule of law shall prevail and will be enforced,” the statement reads.
This came after different transport groups threatened the government to stage a transport strike if the government will not approve their petition for fare hike following a series of pump price increases.
Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP) national president Zeny Maranan said the LTFRB should already grant their petition as the drivers are already tormented with the rising fuel prices.
“Sana ibigay na nila dahil wala nang kinikita ang mga tsuper namin, wala silang naiuuwi sa kanilang pamilya at walang naibibigay sa operator,” Maranan said in an interview.
In September last year, FEJODAP, with League of Transport Operators of the Philippines (LTOP), Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), and Alliance of Transport Operators & Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), filed a petition to increase minimum jeepney fare from P8 to P12.
The groups emphasized in their petition the need for a jeepney fare hike as the increase on the price of fuel and spare parts adversely affected them.
They added that it is “just and necessary” to raise the minimum fare in order to cover the increase in diesel price, spare parts and other operational cost for the member drivers and operators.
“Hinihintay na lang namin ang resolution ng LTFRB sa aming fare hike petition. Finile namin iyon nung 2017 pa,” Maranan said.
In July, LTFRB approved a provisional fare increase of P1 on passenger jeepneys in Metro Manila and regions 3 and 4, making the minimum fare P9 from P8.
Despite the increase, transport group leaders said it is still hard for the drivers to make ends meet as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law threatened to result in higher excise tax for oil products.
“As soon as possible, kung maari nga po dapat ngayong Lunes ilabas na ang decision pagkat narinig na nila kung anong hinaing ng mga tsuper,” she added.
Transport officials said the LTFRB is now addressing the remaining issue of additional fare increase, bearing in mind the adverse effect it would impact on the millions of daily commuters, as well as the overall impact it would have on inflation.
LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra explained that the Board is still deliberating the petitions filed by transport groups.
“With the receipt of NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) comment just recently to our reply for opinion to the fare hike petitions for buses and PUJs, the Board will continue with its deliberation and hope to decide on the petitions soon,” Delgra said.
The DOTr and the LTFRB also asked transport groups to not resort in staging protest actions that will affect the riding public.
“The law clearly states that being granted public transport franchises is a privilege and a public responsibility, and violating this responsibility will result to sanctions,” they said.
In recent transport strikes, LTFRB member Atty. Aileen Lizada said franchises of PUJ operators that will join protests or strikes might be cancelled or suspended.
Lizada cited Memorandum Circular (MC) 2011-004 which prohibited drivers of existing franchises on stopping operations to join a strike or protest.
“Pursuant to the LTFRB memo, the holder of a franchise cannot suspend or stop operations as a sign of protest or objections to any government decisions,” explained Lizada.
Those who will violate will be subject for cancellation or suspension of their respective franchises.
Moreover, the order stated that “nor shall the PUV operator tolerate, allow or authorize personnel to join others committing acts prejudicial to the riding public, including, but not limited to, paralyzing transport services by intimidation, coercion, or violence.”
The DOTr and LTFRB added that the riding public does not deserve the inconvenience that the transport strike will bring.
But Maranan explained that they do not intend to harm the passengers with the strike but to ask them and the government to be considerate to the drivers through giving them chance to earn enough income.
“Ang strike ay hindi naman para perwisyuhin natin ang ating mga mananakay, pagkat alam natin ang kanilang pangangailangan din. Ang amin lamang, humihingi kami ng unawa sa aming mga mananakay na sana dagdagan na po kami ng LTFRB kasi wala na po talaga kaming iuuwi sa aming pamilya,” she explained.
The transportation agencies asked transport groups to instead have a reasonable dialogue with the government rather than staging a strike, adding that they will continue to be “open, transparent, and available” to any of their requests.