Drivers strike over plan to remove aging Philippine jeepneys

manila philippines –

Philippine transport groups launched a nationwide strike on Monday to protest government plans to phase out traditional jeepneys and other aging public transport vehicles that have become cultural icons. bottom.

However, authorities have deployed government vehicles to carry stranded passengers to some areas in case of unforeseen circumstances. Other groups have refused to join his week-long strike, which could force more than 40,000 passenger jeepneys and vans off the streets in the Manila metropolis alone.

Protesting drivers and supporters held a noisy rally on the outskirts of metropolitan Quezon City before forming a motorcade into the government traffic control office to force a protest.

“We are calling on the public to support the transport strike wherever possible,” said Renat Reyes of the left-wing political alliance Bayan, who supported the strike. “While the inconvenience caused by transportation outages will be temporary, the loss of livelihoods for drivers and operators will be long-lasting.”

Around noon, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said no major transportation disruptions were being monitored. Other officials said government vehicles were being deployed in some areas to carry commuters, but did not immediately provide details.

Morning rush hour traffic was as heavy as usual on major roads in Manila and nearby cities.

Citing reports from law enforcement, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s office said by noon that there was “no disruption, except for a few routes in the metropolitan area.”

Bautista warned that drivers who resort to violence or coercion to stop non-strike vehicles will face criminal charges.

Vice President Sarah Duterte, who also serves as secretary of education, drew criticism after she said the strike was an action inspired by communist rebels and could embarrass students.

Launched in 2017, the government’s transport modernization program aims to replace dangerously old passenger jeepneys and vans with modern vehicles that are equipped with safety features and comply with carbon emission standards. . Vehicle owners should join transport cooperatives and companies by the end of the year to improve transport management.

Opponents say most poor drivers could not afford to buy new passenger jeepneys, even though government financial aid had been promised.

Jeepney driver Benito Garcia told the Associated Press: “But for us jeepney drivers and operators, there is no headroom.”

Others said the program would mark the end of Manila’s “King of the Roads” and the gaudily decorated and brightly colored jeepneys that have been seen as showcases of Filipino culture.

Diesel-powered jeepneys evolved from US military jeeps left behind by the US military after World War II. The vehicles were modified and then recreated, many using second-hand truck chassis, and for decades were the most popular form of land transport among the working class. That’s despite spewing black smoke that has been blamed for Manila’s notoriously polluted air.

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