Editorial: Operators, drivers, commuters unite

www.nordis.net

Why would the Filipino’s very own King of the Road take to the streets? Last week the militant organization of public utility vehicles (PUVs) declared a nationwide strike against the recently revised government proposal for transport modernization.

Just by its title only, nobody would have a problem about modernizing the present transport service system in the country, especially if it really is for the people’s common welfare. But depriving the larger portion of the citizenry while extremely enriching a smaller sector of Philippine society is not at all the Filipino idea of “common good.” So, for whom really is this transport modernization?

In line with this transport workers’ and operators’ strike, Malacanang declared a sudden two-day holiday for schools and government offices on the dates of the nationwide strike to ‘dissipate’ the impact of the people’s mobilization. Followed by the usual tirade on media of red-bait accusations against the supporting organizations and institutions. Anyway, the two-day nationwide strike was a success and a victory of the people.

In Baguio-Benguet only it was one of the largest half-day street protest mobilations to show the sector’s stand against that modernization proposal of government that is using them as the project’s beneficiaries so that the Filipino people will endorse it. “No, it is misrepresentation and shall promote further marginalization of the drivers/operators.”

Spokespersons in the strike said, “Our motive is to save livelihood. For us, sacrificing one or two days of work does not matter, rather than be deprived of the right to live.”

“Nagsagawa tayo ng strike hindi para kontrahin ang konsepto ng modernisasyon ngunit para tutulan ‘yung framework na ipapatupad na pro-business tapos nag-aalis ng kabuhayan sa maliliit na operator.”

The modernization scheme requires the removal of jeepneys that are 15 years old and above from the streets, and require the operators and drivers to purchase the elctric-run, solar fueled, or highly refined diesel fueled vehicle for one million to 2 million pesos a piece. Of course, the capitalist has made sure of his profit, and has factored-in the installment scheme to make it look “affordable” to the driver/operator buyer. Then the costs shall be passed on to the communter and so on.

From a small operator’s calculations the daily installment basis to pay for this “modern” vehicle shall cost them more than P800 a day even with the announced government subsidy. In Baguio, the daily average share of the operator or “boundary”is P600. What now goes to the ordinary jeepney driver as a daily livingwage? After the cost of required added gadgets? New fuel costs?

In the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, just before the President called it off, the CASER was the agenda. The proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms or CASER is seen as the most important document in the peace process because it aims to resolve the historical and structural inequities in Philippine society. Both parties agreed and signed that:

“The Parties forge this comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms to solve the fundamental problems of exploitation, underdevelopment and widespread poverty in order to establish the basis for a just and lasting peace.”

“The Parties recognize that the unity of the Filipino people is essential to eliminate the primary obstacles to economic self-reliance, national independence and social emancipation.”

Stand united by your local transport workers. # nordis.net

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