Transport groups to hold another jeepney strike on Feb. 27

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The iconic jeepney, an evolution of U.S. military jeeps in World War 2, has remained largely unchanged for decades.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The leaders of transport groups PISTON, STOP and GO Coalition, and No To Jeepney Phase Out Coalition (NJPOC) claimed the demonstration on Monday will be a massive nationwide strike.

PISTON president George San Mateo said the strike will happen not only in Metro Manila but in over 20 cities and municipalities all over the country, including Baguio City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, and Cagayan de Oro City.

San Mateo said this is their group's response to the government's inaction to their appeal to amend the current version of the modernization program.

The same transport groups organized the strike on February 6, which affected thousands of passengers and forced the cities of Manila and Malabon to suspend work and classes.

The strike was ended after LTFRB officials engaged in a meeting with the transport leaders, a dialogue which San Mateo called futile.

"Yung programa nilang isinusulong ngayon, phase out yan. Binobola-bola lang kami ng gobyerno. Wala naman silang tugon," San Mateo said.

If the government pursues the program, San Mateo threatened that  their groups will continue the strike for several days. They also plan to conduct regular monthly protests.

Scrap the current version

San Mateo said they are supporting the modernization program. But they are against the current provisions included in the Department of Transportation order.

"Pinag-aralan namin ang department order nila. Talagang phase-out siya. Papalitan talaga nila ang mga jeep natin ng e-jeepneys. Iba ang makina, iba chasis, iba lahat," San Mateo said.

He said they are advocating for jeepney rehabilitation, not for junking and replacing them with e-jeepneys.

Transportation Secretary Art Tugade in an interview at NAIA Terminal 3 on Thursday reiterated the program is not a jeepney phase-out.

"It's modernization, hindi ho kami ang pasimuno niyan. May batas 'yan na yung mga 15 years old magpalit-palit na," Tugade said.

He said he has also met with the officials of Landbank to finalize the financial programs intended for drivers and operators who will be affected by the modernization.

Tugade also reminded transport groups of their responsibility to the commuting public. "Karapatan nila yan. Pero yung karapatan, dapat ilagay mo sa kapaligiran na tama at legal," he said.

San Mateo apologized to the public. He said they, too, are sacrificing. He said drivers and operators bear the bigger loss--in money and in resources.

"But we are doing this for our long-term survivial," San Mateo said.

LTFRB activates quick-response team

LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada said the agency will be pre-positioning government vehicles for free rides on Monday.

LTFRB also commissioned buses which will require minimal fees.

Lizada said traffic enforcers and police personnel will be deployed around the metro to assist affected commuters.