LTFRB files raps vs. PISTON leader San Mateo

MANILA The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) filed a case Wednesday against public transport group leader George San Mateo for initiating transport strikes to protest the government's Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program last year.

The LTFRB complained before the Quezon City Prosecutor Office that the president of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) violated Section 20 of Commonwealth Act No. 146 or the Public Service Act and grave threats under the Revised Penal Code for allegedly encouraging jeepney drivers and operators not to provide rides during PISTON's transport strikes on June 5 and 6 as well as Oct. 16 and 17 last year.

Public utility vehicle (PUV) operators should not cease their operations as a means to protest against any government action, according to the LTFRB.

By conducting the transport strike, respondent and his group capitalized on the public necessity, which they were supposed to serve. By ceasing operations, they deliberately preyed upon the need of the people for public transportation, LTFRB's complaint read.

Thus, due to the transport strikes, the government had to provide vehicles just to counter the effects of the transport strikes. Worse, government work and classes had to be suspended due to the transport strikes, it added.

PISTON's transport strikes were also made to threaten the officials of the LTFRB and the DOTr to cease the implementation of the PUVMP, the government agency said further.

Thus, the threat was made to violate LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2011-004 and directed at the LTFRB and DOTr officials discussing and considering the jeepney modernization program. The threat is a crime penalized by the Public Service Act. The threat was made on the condition that the said LTFRB and DOTr officials cease the planning and implementation of the jeepney modernization program, the LTFRB said.

Last December, the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court already arrested San Mateo over a transport strike in February 2017. But the transport leader was freed upon paying a bail of PHP4,000.

PISTON has been urging the government to junk the modernization plan for public jeepneys, saying it would only benefit private corporate interests. It has instead proposed a people-oriented and nationalized mass transport system that would, it said, include all transportation stakeholders in the country.

The PUVMP will replace jeepney units that are 15 years old with Euro 4 engines or electrically-powered engines with solar panels for roofs. These will also be equipped with closed-circuit television cameras, a GPS navigation system, an Automatic Fare Collection System, speed limiters, dashboard cameras, and Wi-Fi.

Source: Philippine News Agency