On Duterte’s tirades vs our 2-day nationwide transport strike Duterte, front of oligarchs vs. jeepney drivers, workers, poor – KMU

We condemn Mr. Rodrigo R. Duterte’s statement branding national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, transport group PISTON, and human – rights organization Karapatan as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

We say to Mr. Duterte: please stick to the issue! His self-indulged blabbing over the national television, refuses to address the real threat to the livelihood of the country’s jeepney drivers being posed by the Jeepney Phaseout Scheme. He refuses to listen to the jeepney drivers and operators’ legitimate demand and logical reasoning to junk this scheme. Thus, proven himself as front of the oligarchs, such as the Ayalas, Pangilinan, and Cojuangco, who will be raking super profits from this scheme. The same oligarchs whom he handed control over MRT/LRT, express ways, telecommunication, power, and water.

The bluster of his accusation cannot hide his ignorance of the issue at hand. The Jeepney Phaseout Scheme is beyond the reduction of carbon dioxide. It reflects rotten mass transportation system that has long been abandoned by the government. Therefore, more important comprehensive measures should be taken to do this.

The jeepney phaseout scheme is about sacrificing the livelihood of small jeepney drivers at the altar of his build-build-build partners/cronies (Ayalas, Pangilinan, and Cojuangco) and big car manufacturers (Toyota, Mitshubishi, and Chrysler) who want to tighten their control over the country’s transportation system. He is so rabid about upholding big capitalist interests, he shed all pretenses to being pro-masses and said “Mahirap kayo? Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom.Wala akong pakialam.”

Duterte has the mindset of a dictator! When the poor exercise their right to speak up against threats to their livelihood, he brands their actions as “conspiracy” and “rebellion.”

He tries to hide his brazen anti-poor and pro-oligarch stand in this issue by imputing political motives to organizations leading and supporting the jeepney drivers’ struggle for their livelihood.

Duterte tries to show that he is unfazed by the successful two-day transport strike against the Jeepney Phaseout Scheme, yet he is very, very afraid of rising disillusionment and anger towards his regime. He is indeed, hallucinating things.

Branding legal and legitimate workers and peoples’ organizations as fronts of the underground CPP sets up the former for attacks from the military and the entire repressive apparatus of the state.

In accusing these organizations as fronts of the CPP, Duterte is no different from Noynoy Aquino, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and all his predecessors. He is truly an admirer of Ferdinand Marcos, who outlawed progressive organizations when he declared Martial Law in 1972.

More strikes vowed after Palace’s refusal to junk phase-out scheme

We, jeepney drivers, operators and commuters strongly condemn Malacañang’s announcement that the government will push through with its anti-poor phase-out scheme amidst the strong rejection of the transport sector, as proven by the 90 per cent participation in our two-day nationwide transport strike. This only forces us to hold more strikes in the next months until the government’s phase-out scheme is junked.

In light of the government’s rejection of our legitimate demands and their desperate moves to harass us with intrigues and threaten us with trumped-up charges, allow us to clarify some points:

First of all, the government has no mass transport modernization plan. The Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines is not a modernization program but a marketing campaign for Toyota, Mitsubishi, the Chrysler-owned Comet E-jeep and other imported vehicles. They are forcing us to buy new units we can’t afford and, using the Filipino people’s taxes, to owe debts we can never repay.

What this government have is a scheme to completely hand-over our country’s mass transport system to the monopoly control of Duterte’s cronies and campaign funders, the Ayalas, the Pangilinans, the Aboitizes and the Cojuangcos, under his Build-Build-Build program. These oligarchs who now hold contracts for the “PUV modernization” through the automated fare collection system, the fleet management scheme and other PUV based infrastructure projects for the OFG, are the same oligarchs that has been awarded contracts for the privatization of other vital public utilities and services under the Build-Build-Build program.

Duterte’s phase-out would result in massive job loss among jeepney drivers and small operators. For commuters, it means an increase in the minimum fare to at least 20 pesos with deregulated succeeding fare hikes and greater burdensome taxes as the government plans to fund the phase-out scheme through Duterte’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).

We reiterate that we are for modernization. In fact, PISTON sought a dialogue with President Duterte last July 18 in Malacañang to present our alternative to the jeepney phase-out scheme and our proposal for the modernization and nationalization of our mass transport system. However, Duterte personally rejected our request and instead told us hold a two-month strike first and that he would give us permit.

It is evident that the Duterte government has no intention of heeding the demand of the public transport sector and the riding public. Instead he is hell-bent on ridding us of our livelihood and burdening our commuters and tax payers to favor the interests of Duterte’s big business cronies and foreign auto industry giants.

With this, we conclude our two-day nationwide strike by announcing that we are geared to hold a bigger and more powerful transport strike and people’s protest in the next months. We will not be intimidated by this government’s threats to cancel our franchises and to file trumped-up charges against our leaders. We have nothing left to lose, and only our livelihood and future to gain. ###

WE ARE ON STRIKE! – Piston, NTPC, KMU

Joint Press Statement
16 October 2017

We are on strike!
2-day nationwide transport strike vs Duterte’s jeepney phase-out kicked-off today

Today we go on strike! We, Public Utility Jeepney drivers, operators and commuters, demand that the Duterte government junk its corporate monopoly-driven jeepney phase-out program and instead adopt a modernization program geared towards a nationalized mass transport system that is beneficial to drivers, operators and the riding public.

Duterte’s phase-out scheme through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines aims to turn our PUJs to another MRT-LRT, a government abandoned mass transport system that has become a milking cow of the monopoly of profit greedy big businesses and corrupt government officials.

The phase-out scheme will displace over a million Filipinos in the PUJ industry, drivers, operators and other PUJ based informal workers. No small operator and driver can come up with over 30 million pesos required capital to purchase new units and apply for a franchise. The government’s much hyped subsidy of 80,000 per unit will only bury us in deep debts we can never repay.

It would also burden our commuters with minimum fares rising up to 20 pesos and deregulated fare hikes through the Ayala owned Beep Automated Fare Collection System. It will also cause gross inconvenience to commuters due to a profit-oriented route rationalization scheme.

Our basis and demands to strike are just and legitimate. We will not be intimidated by the Duterte government’s threats and intrigues to undermine our 2-day nationwide strike against his anti-poor and pro-big business phase-out scheme.

Instead of heeding our demands, the government has been building-up a scenario of “destabilization” to justify their harsh or even violent response towards our just and legitimate demands. Duterte is the one destabilizing himself by implementing anti-people policies that earns him the ire of Filipino workers and people.

Amidst their threats and intrigues slurred by the Duterte government through the DOTr and the LTFRB to pit drivers and operators against commuters, it remains clear that this government is hell-bent on displacing drivers and operators and on burdening commuters to complete the monopoly take-over of our country’s mass transport system by Duterte’s big business cronies, the Ayalas, Pangilinans and Cojuangcos, and foreign auto-industry giants Toyota, Mitsubishi and General Motors.

Day 1 of nationwide transport strike vs jeepney phase-out hits 90% paralyzation

The No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, PISTON and Kilusang Mayo Uno declared a successful first day of the 2-day Nationwide Transport Strike against the Duterte government’s Jeepney Phase-out Scheme by claiming a 90% nationwide paralyzation of jeepney operations across the country.

“The first day of our nationwide transport strike has successfully gathered an overwhelming participation and support of majority of PUJ drivers, operators and commuters. This should serve as a warning to the Duterte government to junk its phase-out scheme and instead adopt a pro-people modernization program that is not geared towards the corporate monopoly take-over of our mass transport system,” George San Mateo, PISTON national president and No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition convenor.

The No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition claimed that over 90% or 225,000 out of the estimated 250,000 total number of PUJ units nationwide participated on the first day of the strike. This number has been supported by thousands of commuters and people’s organizations.

“The number of participants in today’s strike debunks the government’s intrigues that only PISTON opposes the phaseout program. Even members of Pasang Masda, ACTO, FEJODAP, 1-UTAK and ALTODAP rejected their leaders and joined the strike. This only proves the broad outrage against the government’s scheme to rid us of our livelihood and burden our commuters for the sake of foreign and local big business profits,” San Mateo added.

National labor center KMU meanwhile slammed the Duterte government for desperately resorting to spreading “fake news” of destabilization to justify the day long harassments against participants of the strikes and the filing of trumped-up charges of economic sabotage against George San Mateo.

“The Duterte government is well aware of the strong rejection among drivers, operators and commuters over their anti-poor phase-out scheme. That is why they desperately spread the fake news of destabilization to justify the harassments against strike participants all over the country and the filing of trumped-up charges against our leaders. But their attempts to quell the protests were in vain,” Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, said.

KMU also condemned the government for rejecting the demands to junk the phase-out scheme and the implementation of a modernization program geared towards a nationalized mass transport system that is beneficial to drivers, operators and the riding public amidst today’s strike and warned that more strikes and protests will be held until their just and legitimate demands are met.

“Amidst the strong rejection among drivers, operators and commuters expressed today, the Duterte government remains hell-bent on completing the monopoly control of the Ayalas, Pangilinans and Cojuangcos of our mass transport system. Tomorrow, the strike will continue. Duterte also can only expect bigger strikes and protests until he junks his anti-poor phase-out scheme.” Labog said. ###

2-day transport strike to demand junking of Duterte’s jeepney phaseout program

We, public utility jeepney drivers, operators and commuters are united in holding the 2-day nationwide transport strike and people’s protest on October 16-17 to demand the junking of the Duterte administration’s Jeepney Phaseout Program.

Contrary to government’s claims, Duterte’s phaseout program, through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, is not modernization but an abandonment of its constitutional duty to provide a safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system as a public service. Just as it did with other public services and utilities, Duterte is handing over our mass transport system to the monopoly control of profit greedy oligarchs and foreign big automotive corporations.

The Duterte administration wants to massacre the livelihood of over 600,000 PUJ drivers and 300,000 small operators and turn our PUJ’s operations into a milking cow of his big business cronies, the Ayalas, Pangilinans, Aboitizes and Cojuangcos. This would also result in an employment crisis as millions will be added in the already ever-increasing number of unemployed Filipinos.

For commuters, it would result in unabated fare hikes with the minimum fare increasing to at least 20 pesos through the Ayala owned BEEP automated fare collection system. It would also cause greater inconveniences as the route rationalization and fleet management scheme would set lesser PUJ routes to favor private vehicles and the big business owned Bus-Rapid-Transit. This would also not ease the traffic crisis as PUJs only compose 2% of total registered vehicles in the country.

Duterte’s phaseout program would also be a burden to all tax payers as the government also aims to impose greater taxes through the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) to subsidize the big businesses and banks investing in the program.

PUJ drivers, operators and commuters should not be the ones to suffer for the government’s bureaucratic corruption, transport misgovernance and private profit oriented policies that has resulted in the country’s anarchic and big-business controlled transport system. The PUJ system is in fact a solution developed by poor Filipinos to cover-up for the government’s failure to address their mass transport woes.

Instead of phasing out PUJs, the government should promote modernization through the nationalization of an affordable, safe and efficient mass transport system. The government can start by taking back the MRT and LRT from the Ayalas and Pangilinans and improve its operations to cover the riding public mass transport needs.

Rather than subsidizing the onerous importation and procurement of new PUJ units, the government can use its funds to support our local jeepney manufacturers by subsidizing their modernization and development of greener PUJs.

Kilusang Mayo Uno | PISTON | No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition | Unified Transport Federation of Makati | Bayyo Association Inc. (Bai) | RIZAL ALLIANCE VS PUJ PHASE OUT | CAMANAVA Transport Alliance Against Jeepney Phaseout | Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network | All Workers’ Unity | Kilos Na Manggagawa

2-day nationwide transport strike vs PUJ phaseout set

Transport workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, transport alliance Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) and other transport and commuters’ groups under the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition announced today that they will hold a two-day nationwide transport strike on October sixteen to seventeen to demand the demand the junking of the Duterte administration’s PUJ Phaseout program that would ‘massacre’ the livelihood of over 600,000 PUJ drivers and operators nationwide.

“Duterte has not only rejected our demand to junk the previous Aquino administration’s PUJ phaseout program, he is now even rushing its implementation to complete the monopoly take-over of our livelihood by his big business cronies and foreign auto industry giants,” said PISTON National President George San Mateo.

The phaseout program will be implemented on starting January 2018 through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines which forces PUJ drivers and operators to purchase a minimum of ten ‘brand new’ PUJ units which costs over 1.6 million pesos each and will be operated under a ‘fleet management’ scheme run by big transport companies while fares would be collected through the “Beep card” automated collection system owned and operated by the big business Ayala-Pangilinan consortium who has also a monopoly control over the MRT and LRT.

“They want to rid small operators and drivers of our livelihood to hand over to the monopoly control of big foreign and local businesses. Only big transport corporations can come up with over 20 million pesos to comply with the DOTr’s new guidelines. Worse, this phaseout scheme is in line with the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium’s plan to monopolize the country’s mass transport system,” San Mateo said.

The KMU meanwhile called on the riding public, especially the workers, students and professionals to stand with PUJ drivers and operators against the corporate monopoly control of our mass transport system.

“Duterte is conniving with his big business cronies and foreign auto-industry giants in completing the corporate monopoly control of our mass transport system. This would result in massive joblessness among transport workers and other informal livelihood base on PUV operations. For commuters, it would result in deregulated fare hikes and regressive service since it would be turned to a milking cow of big corporations,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson said.

The labor center meanwhile claimed that the 2-day strike, the first time in decades, aims to show that PUJ drivers and operators and the riding public will not allow the Duterte government to push through with its anti-people and pro-big business PUJ phaseout program.

“We call on all PUJ drivers and operators nationwide to join the 2-day strike and show Duterte that we will not give-up our livelihood and our families’ future to big businesses. We also call on the riding public of workers, students and professionals to take part in the strike by holding mass actions in support of our drivers and operators and to demand for a nationalized safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system,” said Labog.

Duterte killing workers with TRAIN and 12-hour work day bill

To commemorate the International Day for Decent Work today, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a national day of protest to demand the junking of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) and the Alternative Work Arrangement Bill (Senate Bill 1571) which they claim would kill workers with worsened precarious work.

“Exorbitant taxes and extended work hours kills workers. Duterte’s onslaught of anti-worker policies, which are now being railroaded in the Senate, will further press down our already meager wages and will subject us to slave-like work conditions,” Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, said.

KMU claimed that workers have nothing to gain and everything to lose should both houses of Congress pass the Duterte administration’s tax reform package on today’s scheduled bicameral conference.

“Duterte’s TRAIN will rob us of our already meager wages by imposing new burdensome taxes on basic goods and services. Worse, it even aims to remove the tax exemption for minimum wage earners,” Labog said.

Meanwhile, the Senate is also set to pass the Senate Bill 1571 which aims to institutionalize flexible work schemes that would subject workers to more than 12-hours of daily work which violates their universal right to an 8-hour work day.

“Instead of heeding our demands for decent work, living wages and regular jobs, the government has been pushing for the legalization of flexible work schemes that would subject us to forced slave-labor. It would also result in wage cuts, massive lay-offs and workplace deaths and illnesses,” said Labog.

The KMU led national day of protest was held in key cities across the country. In Metro Manila, workers stormed the house of Senate in Pasay City while similar protests were held in Department of Labor and Employment regional offices and protest centers in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Panay, Cebu, Negros, Davao, Caraga, General Santos and Cagayan de Oro.

“Duterte has already been murdering workers with his tyrannical and fascist rule. We will not allow him to kill more workers with his onslaught of US-dictated neoliberal economic policies. This administration could only expect bigger workers’ protest over his failed promises and intensifying attacks against our wages, jobs and rights,” Labog said.