February 27, 2017, an otherwise regular Monday in the Philippines, had been replaced by a suspension of classes for students all over the country. Of course, students are rejoicing for the loss of a school day, but what is actually going on behind this class suspension?
Three transport groups in the Philippines, namely Piston, Stop and Go Coalition and No To Jeepney Phase Out Coalition (NTJPOC), will be holding a strike in more than 20 cities and municipalities nationwide. The demonstration will be in response to a modernization program proposed by the Department of Transportation in the Philippines.
Why is this important?
The program asks that jeepneys that are more than 15 years old should be “modernized” and have some of their parts touched up. This did not sit well with the aforementioned transport groups as they claim that the program intends to phase out the jeepneys and replace them with e-jeepneys or electronic jeepneys instead.
George San Mateo, president of the Piston group, says that they are for the modernization program, but not for the changing and replacing of the jeepneys. The Stop and Go Coalition would also point out that only wealthy groups would be able to afford the renovations for their jeepneys. Replacing the current vehicles would affect family businesses and financial status; however, the department has said that they have are working to finalize financial programs for affected drivers and operators of the program.
On the upside, this program would be kinder to the environment as jeepneys do tend to release a handful of black smoke; whereas, e-jeepneys would not release smoke at all. In addition, the e-jeepneys would also be more sanitary and forgiving to the commuters and riders.
This strike is not the first and might not be the last.
A previous strike by the Piston and Stop and Go Coalition transport groups was held last February 6, 2017, and the groups will continue to strike for several days, as well as conduct monthly protests. George San Mateo has apologized to the public on behalf of the operators, saying that they, too, are sacrificing for their businesses’ long-term survival.