Philippines Report

QC court orders PISTON leader’s arrest over transport strike

A Quezon City court has ordered the arrest of Pinagkaisahang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide president George San Mateo for leading a transport strike in February.

San Mateo was charged with violating Section 20(k) of the Commonwealth Act 146 or the Public Service Law.

That provision of CA 146 reads: “(k) Adopt, maintain, or apply practices or measures, rules or regulations to which the public shall be subject in its relations with the public service.” The section deals with acts requiring the approval of a Public Service Commission.




Presiding Judge Don Ace Mariano Alagar of Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 43 issued the arrest warrant against the transport leader last Friday.

The bail is set at P4,000.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board last September stating that the transport strike last February was prohibited under its Memorandum Circular 2011-04, which outlines the revised terms for the granting of certificates of public convenience, and the Public Service Act.

More than 7,000 commuters in Metro Manila were affected that day.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr said the arrest warrant against San Mateo is “obviously harassment and a move to intimidate transport groups.”

In October, President Rodrigo Duterte accused PISTON and other activist groups identified with the national democratic movement of being communist fronts and of working with the New People's Army.

“It is one big conspiracy. Right now, all of them are committing rebellion,” Duterte said then. He added transport groups should comply with a government plan to modernize jeepneys and other forms of public transportation or “I would have your old, unregistered jeepneys right before your eyes by January 1 next year.”

It has since emerged that the government is still studying how it will implement the modernization program and that it will not be rolled out by next January.

On Sunday, transport group PISTON announced that it would no longer hold the nationwide coordinated jeepney strike to protest the public utility vehicle modernization program supposed to be held on December 4 to 5.

The PUV modernization program seeks to phase out old and dilapidated jeepneys and replace them with high-quality transport systems that are environment-friendly and have greater capacity.

Piston tagged the plan as “anti-poor,” saying drivers and operators could not afford the estimated cost of jeepney replacement, which was pegged between P1.5 million to P1.8 million.

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