Driver's strike paralyzed Metro Manila, provinces
in response to the growing oil prices
Last 7:00 AM, drivers around the Philippines staged a nationwide strike especially in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
The protests are made in response to the Overpricing on oil, Value Added Tax, Oil Deregulation Law, and other Government policies that resulted to mass discontent of drivers trying to earn a living. And according to Elmer Labog of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, a beginning of much bigger protests to be wage upcoming month.
Originally a joint protest with the Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators (Acto), Pasang Masda, and the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap), the three backed out of the planned protest following the meeting with President Noynoy Aquino, leaving PISTON and other smaller transport groups go on with the strike.
According to PISTON Secretary-General George San Mateo, “We did not get any guarantee from the President that he will do something about high fuel prices,” justifying the militant organization's stance to push through the driver's strike.
The protests continued still all despite Government interference to quell the actions. In Philcoa, Quezon City, protesters were forcibly driven away by the policemen in Commonwealth Avenue as part of the strike, while the former even done Planking in the road as part of the protest; while in Valencia, Bukidnon, where protesters are being harassed by the police.
There is even a commotion between DOTC Secretary Manuel Rozas III and Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino in Cubao, after Roxas told to Casino and Bayan Muna not to get involve with the protests - justifying Casino's anger telling him that the people are greatly affected by the increase in oil prices made by oil companies and an "inutile Government". After the commotion, security guards as well as policemen tried to disperse the protesters.
Meanwhile, the government, especially the Armed Forces issued free rides for commuters in the main thoroughfares over Metro Manila. And issued a threat as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) warned operators and drivers against joining the transport strike, although LTFRB board member Manuel Iway said the agency would impose penalties only if transport routes are paralyzed. Some 5,000 uniformed policemen are deployed today in Metro Manila to ensure peace and order during the jeepney strike by militant transport groups.
But the protests remained dominant all despite threats as according to the reports, nearly 60 up to 100% of jeepney routes all over Metro Manila are paralyzed, including Camanava reaching 85%. In Monumento, Caloocan city, almost 100 jeepney drivers stopped driving and joined the protests, while members of Anakpawis, Gabriela, Anakbayan, Kilusang Mayo uno and Confederation of Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees also joined the protests in support for the drivers against Oil Deregulation and Overpricing of oil products. In Laguna, 85% of all public transport routes are paralyzed especially in San Pablo City and Calamba same as in Mindanao, where Davao City reached 92% with ten schools including Ateneo de Davao having their classes suspended, Cagayan de Oro with 80%, and Iligan City with 90%.
In assessment, the protests, as what KMU's Elmer Labog said, would create another round of strikes as the government fails to seriously heed the call of the masses in midst of the prevailing socio-economic crisis.