PISTON to Duterte: Talk to us or we will hold another strike

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PISTON National President George San Mateo (left) and President Rodrigo Duterte (file)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 17) — The leader of the transport group behind the nationwide strike since Monday said they hope President Rodrigo Duterte fulfills his promise to talk to them or else they will prepare for another protest action.

Related: Palace suspends gov't work, classes in all levels on Oct. 17

"Ang inaasahan sana namin dito, magbigay sana ng panahon si Presidente para pakinggan kami at kausapin kami kasi pinangako niya na 'yan since February 28 pa," San Mateo told CNN Philippines on Tuesday when asked about what PISTON would do after the strike.

[Translation: What we're hoping for after this is that the President would put aside to listen and talk to us since he made that promise on February 28.]

 

San Mateo said he was sad that the President has not set aside time to meet them.

"'Pag mga negosyante, may panahon siya. 'Pag mga sundalo, may panahon siya. 'Pag kapulisan, may panahon siya. Ba't 'pag sa mga operator at driver, wala siyang panahon?" he added.

[Translation: He has time for businessmen. He has time for soldiers. He has time for police officers. But how come for drivers and operators, he doesn't have time?]

"Ngayon, kung maging ganyan ang trato sa atin ng Pangulo, eh hindi pa man natatapos itong ikalawang araw ng welga, bubwelo lang kami, eh maghahanda kami ng panibago," San Mateo said.

[Translation: Now, if the President continues to ignore us, even if this second day of protest isn't done, we will prepare another strike.]

Deferred talks

On February 27, PISTON and other transport groups held a strike to protest the then-proposed Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.

Read: Transport groups hold nationwide transport strike to protest government's PUV modernization program

The group also held a protest on July 17, with San Mateo saying Duterte told them on July 18 that they would talk after the strike.

Read: Jeepney groups to stage national day of protest today

"Sinabi naman niya sa amin, "Saka na mag-usap pagkatapos namin magwelga,"" he said. "Eh ginawa na namin 'yun, di ba?"

[Translation: He told us, "Let's talk after you hold your stirke." And we did that, didn't we?]

'Why are they scared?'

Transport group PISTON, along with Left-leaning labor groups, scheduled a nationwide strike on October 16 and 17 to again protest the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program, which the government implemented in July 2017.

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

The PUV Modernization Program aims to improve the PUV sector and includes guidelines for a local public transport route plan, vehicle specifications, operator requirements and the three-year transition period, which will end in 2020.

Read: Jeepney modernization program kicks off next month

The program also includes banning jeepneys over 15 years old from plying the streets.

But some transport groups say that hundreds of thousands of jeepney drivers and operators could lose their business from the move.

WATCH: What is the Piston group?

San Mateo said he is hoping that Tuesday's strike will be as "successful" as the day before.

"Naniniwala ako na tagumpay kahapon, despite yung panlilinlang ng gobyerno na hindi raw," he said.

[Translation: I believe that yesterday's protest was successful, despite the government saying it wasn't.]

Related: Regulators: Strike failed to paralyze transport service

"Dahil kung hindi, bakit mo kailangan kanselahin ang klase ulit, di ba?" San Mateo added. "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 cancelled again? Why was work in government offices cancelled? Here's the truth: The government is being stubborn, but it is afraid of protests.]

CNN Philippines Correspondent Rex Remitio contributed to this report.