Public transport strike threatens school reopening in Philippines

The strike is being organised to dramatise sentiments against the government's move to phase out old passenger jeepneys.

Picture for representation
Picture for representation Reuters

As the schools are sceduled to reopen (June 5), a nationwide public transport strike, called by a major transport group, is expected to bring a complete lock down in the country. The protest rally is being organised to dramatise sentiments against the government's move to phase out the old passenger jeepneys – a vehicle, which is a common public transportation in the Philippines.

The Philippines government earlier announced that it will soon introduce a policy that will phase out old-passenger jeepneys. This decision was made as the auhorities belive that the vehicles are no environment-friendly.

Organizers of the protest rally said the move, in Manila, is being supported by the rally caravan and the protest will also be held in Panay and Negros in the Visayas region. The nationwide protest rally will be spearheaded by the Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide or popularly known as (PISTON).

Around 25 million students are expected to attend their first class of school opening tomorrow and police authorities have begun to remove illegal structures in highways that can cause traffic congestions.

In Manila, George San Mateo leader of PISTON said the protest rallies will be held in front of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Department of Transportation. These are two government agencies setting the policies and issuance of transport franchies to regulate public transport vehicles.

But despite the obvious adverse effect of the absence of public transport on the opening day, San Mateo said the strike will not at all disrupt the school opening on Monday. Moreover, he also said that during rallies in the past local government has provided transport for communters .

The Philippines government is also preparing vehicles to transport some students and commuters who will not have access to public transport tomorrow. The Metro Manila Development Authority will also be seeking the help of local government units to provide transportation to cities in Manila where most jeepney operators will be on strike.

Moreover, the Philippine government will also deploy 2,000 traffic enforcers in Metro Manila as early as 5:30AM to prevent traffic congestions and assist students in their first day of classes.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada told a national broadsheet here that he ordered the police to be visible during the first day of classes tomorrow because he does not want any unfortunate incideint to happen.