Transport strike vs. jeepney phaseout set for Oct. 16-17

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

Story updated to include Palace statement.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 13) — Transport and labor groups are set to stage a nationwide strike on October 16 and 17, to protest the planned jeepney phaseout program.

George San Mateo, national president of transport alliance Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON), said they are opposing the program, which was endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Duterte has not only rejected our demand to junk the previous Aquino administration's PUJ (Public Utility Jeepney) phaseout program, he is now even rushing its implementation to complete the monopoly takeover of our livelihood by his big business cronies and foreign auto industry giants," San Mateo said in a statement.

Joining PISTON in the call are Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and other transport and commuters' groups under the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition.

In Pampanga, Anti-Jeepney Phaseout Coalition spokesperson Bong Meneses said around 8,000 PUJs are expected to join the strike.

Class suspensions

In light of the transport strike, Malacañang announced on Sunday that all classes in both public and private schools, as well as work in government offices are suspended on Oct. 16.

Read: Palace suspends all classes, work in gov't offices nationwide on Oct. 16

However, Malacañang said work in the private sector is not covered by the suspension, which will be at the discretion of employers.

Jeepney phaseout program

KMU said the PUJ phaseout program would negatively impact the livelihood of over 6,000 drivers and operators nationwide.

The phaseout program, to be implemented by the transportation department, will start in January 2018, and will force drivers and operators to purchase at least 10 new PUJ units costing more than P1.6 million each.

The units will then be operated under a fleet management scheme run by transport companies. Fare collection will be through the use of Beep cards, which are being used in the country's Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit systems.