Jeepney group claims success of two-day strike

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 17) — The first day of the nationwide jeepney strike was successful enough for the Palace to again suspend classes and government work, protesters said on Tuesday.

Although less drivers joined the second day of protest, the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) said what's important is Malacañang felt the impact.

"Dahil kung hindi, bakit mo kailangan kanselahin ang klase ulit, di ba?" PISTON President George San Mateo told CNN Philippines. "Bakit mo na naman kailangan kanselahin ang opisina ng gobyerno? Eto kasi ang totoo: Yung gobyerno nagmamatigas, pero takot naman sa welga." 

[Translation: If the strike wasn't successful yesterday, why were classes canceled again? Why was work in government offices canceled? Here's the truth: The government is being stubborn, but it is afraid of protests.]

They held placards to protest the impending public utility vehicle modernization program, which includes banning jeepneys over 15 years old from plying the streets. Protesters said 600,000 jeepney drivers may lose their source of living because of the new policy.

The Philippine National Police said it monitored less than 200 rallyists in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cebu, and General Santos City as of 8 a.m. Tuesday. PISTON has 200,000 members.

The strike failed to cripple jeepney routes across the country on Monday and Tuesday, authorities said.

"The CCTV cameras will bear us out. The number of vehicles will bear us out. This is not a successful tigil pasada (transport strike)," Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Spokesperson Aileen Lizada said.

She said a number of passengers were temporarily stranded, particularly along E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave in Quezon City, and Baclaran and Sucat in Parañaque, but the Joint Quick Response Team immediately deployed 13 vehicles to offer free rides to 300 passengers. 

Protesters, however, said the government is trying to downplay the strike.

"Kahapon minamaliit nila yung pagkilos at nagdeklara sila na may pasok na pero ngayong araw na ito binawi na naman nila," PISTON Camanava Spokesperson Edwin Oreña said.

[Translation: "Yesterday they were downplaying the protest action and declared resumption of classes, but took this back. This is a big thing for our fight."]

Contrary to an earlier statement, the Palace late Monday evening suspended classes in all levels and work in government offices on Tuesday due to the nationwide transport strike.

Lizada said the LTFRB will cancel the franchises of operators who participated in the strike.

"The franchise, we will always reiterate is a privilege given by the government. There are terms and conditions, you have to abide. You may do your rally but not in this way. When you use the riding public as your hostage na iipitin mo sila, on the part of government public service ang inaabala ninyo," she said.

She said traffic enforcers are taking photos of drivers who joined the protest.

This is a developing story. Please refresh page for updates.

CNN Philippines' Rex Remitio, Joyce Ilas, and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.