Palace warns sanctions for those joining transport strike who will commit “acts of violence”

(Eagle News) — Malacanang said that the government will not be “cowed by threats of protests and strikes” set today, Sept. 30, by various transport groups which are opposing the planned jeepney modernization program.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the government’s public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program is already long overdue and will not be stopped by protests and strikes.

He said that while government was not dissuading drivers and operations of PUVs from joining the strike today, they should still ensure the peaceful conduct of their protest.

If they should not do so and perform “acts of violence,” Panelo warned their franchises and certificates of public convenience would be cancelled.

“While we will not dissuade the drivers and operators of public utility vehicles to join the proposed nationwide protest tomorrow, September 30, we caution them, however, to assemble peacefully and not perform acts of violence that will endanger the safety of the general public, as the government will enforce pertinent laws, rules and regulations, including the cancellation of their privileges, such as franchises or certificates of public convenience,” Panelo said in a statement.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) issued its Department Order No. 2017-011 (Re: Omnibus Guidelines on the Planning and Identification of Public Road Transportation Services and Franchise Issuance) or the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) on June 19, 2017.

This is a “flagship program of the Duterte administration which envisions a restructured, modern, well-managed and environmentally sustainable transport sector where drivers and operators have stable, sufficient and dignified livelihoods while commuters get to their destinations quickly, safely and comfortably.”

The program phases out jeepneys and other public transport vehicles 15 years and older.

Only two major transport groups are participating in the strike. These are the drivers and operators of the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO) and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON).