AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People expressed its support to PISTON’s Transport Strike against jeepney phaseout on the second day of the 3-day strike.

“We stand with the jeepney drivers and small operators who are foregoing three days’ worth of wages in order to voice out their demands to end the unjust phaseout of traditional jeepney units under the government’s fake modernization program,” said Jona Yang, Secretary-General of AGHAM.

On the first day of the strike, PISTON leaders held a dialogue with Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III where they reiterated concerns that the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program and the LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2017-030 or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines will lead to franchise consolidation and the eventual phaseout of traditional jeepneys not deemed as “roadworthy”, and called for the junking of the programs or, at the minimum, another extension from the December 31, 2023 deadline.

“Guadiz’ response to the jeepney drivers was a commitment to ‘pag-aralan’ or study further the said programs,” recounted Yang. “Our response to this is: if Guadiz, the LTFRB, and the Marcos administration truly wants to study the PUV Modernization Program in order to improve it, then the situation of the operators and drivers should be the first thing that they have to study.”

The PUV Modernization Program was first launched in 2017, and has since been met with opposition from different organizations ranging not only from drivers and operators, but from commuters as well.

“It is clear that the commitment to study the PUV Modernization Program is nothing but an empty promise. Day by day, more and more of our drivers and small operators are waking up to the reality that the fake modernization program is not for their benefit, but for the big corporations who can afford to consolidate their franchises,” said Yang.

“To say that there is no phaseout of traditional jeepney units after December 31, 2023, while at the same time saying that traditional units have to comply with roadworthiness to be allowed on the road is a mere play on words,” said Yang. “Instead of hiding behind the guise of being environment-friendly to remove jeepneys not deemed ‘roadworthy’, the government should aid drivers and operators in rehabilitating their old jeepney units as a first step towards kickstarting the country’s own transportation manufacturing industry.”

AGHAM said that they will stand with PISTON until the end of the transport strike, and until the bogus PUV Modernization Program is junked.

“We want modernization, but to achieve this we need a just transition that will lead to national industrialization. Subsidizing rehabilitation, supporting small automotive manufacturing industries, and investing on an automotive industry at the national level are concrete steps toward this,” said Yang. “The path to modernization should not be at the cost of the drivers, operators, and commuters who stand to suffer. Genuine modernization should include all Filipinos, especially those of the poorest and most marginalized,” she ended. ###


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