Jeepney groups to stage national day of protest today

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 17) — Hundreds of jeepney drivers are expected to take part in today's transport protest.

This according to Piston president George San Mateo who clarified that the actions in Metro Manila today is not necessarily a strike, which is done on a more massive scale.

What jeepney drivers plan today is to do  a protest caravan that will start at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

Instead of marching to the offices of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and Transportation Department, protesters will go directly to Mendiola in Manila, where they will be closer to Malacañang Palace, to hold a noise barrage.

Protesters want President Rodrigo Duterte to hear their plight and cancel the implementation of the so-called jeepney phaseout program.

San Mateo says some operators in Bataan, Pampanga, and Zambales will conduct a transport strike the entire day.

Transport groups in Bulacan will also take part in the strike and classes in Malolos City, San Miguel, Sta. Maria, San Jose Del Monte City have suspended classes because of it.

Classes from high school to college levels in Baliuag have also been suspended.

Classes in the following have also been suspended:

Jeepney groups are asking the commuters for patience for any inconvenience the strike may cause.

They say they want the government to stop the plan to phase-out jeepney units that are 15-years-old and above.

The government's plan is to replace old units with newer, eco-friendly, and safer electronic jeepneys.

The public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program was launched last month after months of revisions and consultations.

Transport officials are refusing to call this as "phase out" of jeepneys – as what transport groups are labeling the plan.

Transport authorities say the Traffic Crisis Act of 2016 calls for the phasing-out 15-year-old jeeps.

RELATED: Jeepney groups hold new protest vs. gov't plan to upgrade jeepneys

But transport groups say the so-called modernization program will eventually wipe-out the entire jeepney industry.

This is because all jeeps will reach 15 years of age, and investing in them will be impractical if they have to be shelved after 15 years.

San Mateo says the phase-out will affect the livelihood of six hundred thousand drivers and two hundred thousand operators nationwide.

In the House of Representatives, the so-called Traffic Crisis Act of 2016, or House Bill 4334, government plans to replace public utility vehicles, especially jeepneys, with new, environment-friendly versions.

The House approved the Bill in January 2017 and a statement released on January 23 said, "the bill will now be referred to the committee on appropriations for its funding provisions."

Section 2d of the Act mentions, "It is hereby declared the policy of the State to reform, modernize, and streamline the mass transportation systems to the end of attaining sustainable, organized, predictable, accessible, and safe networks of public transportation."

Section 24 states, "The DOTr Secretary, or upon delegation, the LTO shall work with established vehicle manufacturers to determine and conduct the appropriate road worthiness test and vehicle limitations (number of passengers, load limits) per type of vehicle."

The Senate has a counterpart bill titled the "Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016" filed in December 2016 which is still on second reading.

CNN Philippines' Makoi Popioco contributed in this report.