Southern Tagalog transport sector, drivers stage protest caravan

October 1, 2013 10:25 am 

By Saul Pa-a

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna Sept. 30 (PNA) -– The Southern Tagalog Regional Transport Sector Organization (STARTER) – PISTON led the protest caravan of both jeepney and tricycle drivers, peasants and the poor sector on Monday at the busy intersection “Crossing” in this city.

Joining the PISTON South Luzon group were other transport and militant groups such as Kadamay (Kalipunan ng Damayang Maralita – Timog Katagalugan), a peasant and poor mans’ association in Southern Tagalog who flashed streamers and tarpaulins.

A caravan of tricycle drivers and operators group started the protest action from the Land Transportation Office–Calamba district office along the National Highway and the convoy of some 50 trikes went about the city’s busy “Crossing” intersection starting 10 a.m..

Another convoy of some 25 jeepneys with streamers and banners with bullhorns and public address systems also made rounds by noontime at the city’s main thoroughfare.

According to the participants, their protest caravan of jeepney drivers and poor sector groups started from San Pedro and conducted whistle stops along the National Highway moving to Biñan City, Sta. Rosa City, Cabuyao City and converged in Calamba City.

The PISTON-led caravan protested the escalating prices in petroleum products that have affected their ranks in the transport sector while militant groups joined the protest actions over increase in prices of commodities and demand for wage increase.

Both urban and rural poor sector rallyists also continued their protest on all forms of “pork barrel” from the Presidential, congressional and other funds and voiced out to re-channel these for government spending to the basic sectors.

The protesting groups also called for the abolition of the Oil Deregulation Law and the phase out plan for public conveyances such as the FX-UV and mini-bus and feared the PUJ and tricycle would be next resulting to more unemployed and jobless on streets.

In an interview with the PNA here, Orlando Domingo, vice president of PISTON said drivers and operators believe the situation is like a “hold-up” especially the DOTC Department Order 38 and 39 which exacts excessive penalties and fines for the tansport sector.

He cited the simple violation of the drivers’ dress code on avoiding wearing of slippers when the penalty used to be a hundred pesos and now this is hiked to P1,500, for colorum vehicles at P6,000.

He also referred to the non-payment of the fine of the impounded vehicle which could even result to revocation of the transport operator’s franchise and the Land Transportation Office’s proposal to change the plate numbers of all vehicles which could reach billions in what he described as “money making schemes.”

“Ang milyon-milyong gastusin sa mga plate numbers para sa four-wheeled sa halangang P450 tulad ng taxi, multi-cab, FX, AUVs at jeep at P120 pesos para sa mga tricyles at mga single motor,” Domingo remarked.

Domingo also said a Regional Trial Court in Baguio City has already ruled in the transport sector’s favor but PISTON still questions the non-compliance by the Regions 4, 5 and 6 on the court rulings.

Referring to the P75 pesos wage hike proposed before the Regional Tripartite Productivity and Wage Board, Domingo commented “iba pa ring usapin ang mga petition sa pagtaas ng sahod kasi iba kami sa transport sector dahil hindi naman kami katulad sa mga pang-opisina na pumapasok otso oras.”

“Talagang ang kita namin sa kalsada lang. Kung hindi kami bumiyahe, wala kaming kita,” said Domingo noting the taxes and government funds from taxpayers money, 12% VAT and the Road Users Tax are literally “held-up by hoodlums” among lawmakers and their cohorts and accomplices.

Traffic management monitoring groups in Laguna assessed that transport groups have barely affected transport and traffic flow in San Pedro and the cities of Biñan, Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao and Calamba but assessed that the rally-caravan which ended 3 p.m. was generally peaceful. (PNA)

HBC/SEP/UTB

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