By: Clara Masinag, InterAksyon.com
October 27, 2014 12:20 AM
MANILA – Despite threats of sanctions from regulators, operators of public transport units and drivers under the alliance of PISTON served notice on Sunday they will push through with their coordinated nationwide protests on Monday (Oct. 27) to press for the suspension of a Joint Administrative Order of three agencies that they describe as oppressive to the transport sector and the riding public.
This, as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) gave assurances it will provide free rides for commuters who will be affected by the transport strike to be staged by the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON).
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino also appealed to PISTON to be calm and not affect nor greatly inconvenience the rights of the greater majority.To ensure peace and order, Tolentino said MMDA and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) will mobilize its traffic management and emergency response units. He appealed to PISTON “not to block or forcefully convince other transport groups or association who will not participate with the protest action.”
The coordinated protests are targeting the immediate suspension of JAO# 2014-01, enforced by the LTFRB, LTO and the DOTC, imposing tough penalties on operators and drivers for a wide array of offenses.
Among those affected by the JAO, and whose members are expected to join the protests, are drivers and operators of jeepneys, tricycles, UV Express Service and metered taxis.
PISTON will lead the coordinated protest actions of drivers, operators and other private motorists in Metro Manila, Laguna, Albay, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Northern Mindanao, Surigao Del Norte, General Santos and Davao City.
In Metro Manila, PISTON and its partners will set up protest centers starting 5:00 a.m. to encourage transport workers and citizens to support the campaign. The protest centers will be set up on Monumento (Rizal Ave. in front of Victory Mall) which will become the main protest center, from which PISTON National President George San Mateo will be posted.
Besides Monumento, there will be protest centers in Alabang (beneath the Alabang Viaduct Bridge), Pasay (Flower Box Terminal Roxas Blvd. corner Ortigas St, Pasay City), Novaliches Bayan in front of Goldilocks on Quirino Avenue; Cubao, at the corner of Aurora Blvd. and Annapolis Street; and the corner of Sucat Road and Evacom Road in Paranaque.
PISTON members and allies in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Surigao del Norte will go on transport holiday. Big protest caravans will be launched by PISTON in Laguna, Albay, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao City and General Santos City.
At 10 a.m. Monday, the drivers and operators gathered on protest centers will proceed to the Quezon City Elliptical Circle in front of the National Housing Authority. From NHA, the caravan-march will go to the main offices of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) on East Avenue. There they will hold the main rally program.
PISTON renewed on Sunday its urgent call to President Aquino to suspend and ultimately nullify Joint Administrative Order (JAO) # 2014-01 that the LTFRB-LTO-DOTC issued on June 19, 2014, and which imposes oppressive penalties on drivers and operators of public transport, as well as private motorists.
San Mateo stressed that the JAO covers not just the Colorum and Out of Line vehicles, as previously thought, but even minor infractions, for which penalties have been jacked up to unconscionable levels. For instance, the lowest fine under the JAO is P1,000 for minor offenses like obstruction. For defective accessories (busted wiper, headlight, signal light, tail light, etc.) the driver or motorist will be fined P5,000; and, if he/she is unable to pay it on the spot, the vehicle will be impounded until the fine is paid.
The penalty for not wearing seatbelt was also jacked up; if the passenger in front does not wear a seatbelt, the driver and operator will be fined P3,000 each.
The JAO also imposes a “No pick and drop outside the terminal” rule. This means that the public transport units are barred from picking up or dropping off passengers, who will be forced to go to transport terminals; the fine for this offense is P1,000 for the driver and P5,000 for operator.
According to PISTON, these are only some of the unjust and excessive impositions; and the group said that if JAO is not stopped, it is tantamount to using the heavy hand of the State to force citizens and the transport sector to be a milking cow.
San Mateo recalled that last Sept. 26, the LTFRB-LTO-DOTC called for a meeting supposedly to revise the JAO. San Mateo said this is the clearest indication that LTFRB-LTO-DOTC concede there was no public consultation conducted before the order was imposed.
Thus, PISTON urged the President, as well as the three agencies, to immediately suspend the JAO while the review is ongoing.
“If the JAO is allowed to continue, it will result in the massive phaseout of transport sector players owing to the onerous fines,” said the PISTON chief.