ILOILO City – As transport strike looms this coming Monday, February 27, some schools in this city already announced the cancellation of their classes and office work to unburden their students.
These schools are the following:
— Asian College of Aeronautics
— Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U)
— STI College of Iloilo
— West Visayas State University (WVSU)
— University of San Agustin (USA) – Iloilo
— Ateneo de Iloilo – SMCS
Meanwhile, the following schools have not cancelled their classes but students with transportation concerns are excused:
— University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Iloilo City and Miagao Campuses
— Central Philippine University (CPU)
Transport groups are protesting the impending phaseout of public utility jeepney (PUJs) as part of the modernization plan of the Department of Transportation.
“More than 200,000 jeepney units will be affected by the phaseout injuring the lives and livelihood of millions of drivers, operators and small-medium business enterprise and owners that cater on transport services such as shops and spare parts,” said PISTON, one of the leading group in this nationwide transport strike.
A NO TO PUJ (jeepney), PUB (buses), AUV (vans) PHASEOUT COALITION was formed to lead this strike in Panay and Guimaras.
According to LTFRB data, there are more than 12,000 jeepney units in both islands.
“This is about 50,000 Ilonggo drivers, operators and enterprises that will lose their livelihood,” said PISTON Panay coordinator Edgar Salarda. “This will also translate to hundred of thousands that will be affected when fare prices’ increase due to monopoly.”
Once implemented, the phaseout will be replaced by a fleet management system that is essentially to monopolize the public transport system, otherwise known as privatization.
“With a minimum of P7 million operational expenses for 10 units, no one among as small and medium enterprises can afford it. Only big corporations such as the Vallacar Transit Incorporated (Ceres Liner) have such a capacity to do so,” said Maria Rose Celeste of JQR Transit, operator of Calinog Bus Line plying the central lines.
Iloilo provincial jeepneys are expecting almost a 100% compliance to the strike.
“We are telling our members not to leave their garage anymore and also to avoid being caught by authorities,” said Roju Paguntalan of CIPJODA.
“Iloilo city-loop jeepneys under ICLAJODA is also leading this strike together with thousands of our members composing more than 50% of the city’s transport system,” said Raymundo Parcon, their president.
PISTON-Iloilo with eight associations plying the city and metro-Iloilo areas are also leading the strike.
Meanwhile, progressive sectoral groups under BAYAN Panay are also bringing their issues as part of the strike which includes the oil price hike (OPH) and burdensome excise tax.
“The people will be greatly affected by the phaseout on top of the recurring OPH and additional excise taxation which translates to P6-P10 on petroleum products and P5 on sugar,” Elmer Forro, the group’s secretary general said.
“With the looming privatization scheme of the public transport sector, not even the experiences of LRT and MRT management in Manila can assure the public of its perceived benefits. Clearly, this phase-out will only be a milking machine for corporate business interests and foreign and local capitalists to siphon super-profits at the expense of the public,” Forro added.
Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Guimaras provinces are also joining this nationwide strike.
The transport strike on Monday will start from 6AM until 6PM.
“Emergency vehicles will also be provided for stranded passengers but we strongly encourage our riding public to join our cause and refrain from going to school and work,” said the drivers.
For support drivers are advising the public to drop by at any of these four strike center locations: Tagbak terminal, Jaro plaza, UP Diversion area and outside Iloilo Provincial Capitol at CASA Plaza. (panaytoday.net)