North Metro jeepney drivers stage strike

By Jerry Botial, The Philippine Star, Tuesday 4 June 2002

They protested not because of the rising prices of gasoline nor because they wanted a fare hike but because of colorum buses and jeepneys plying their route with impunity and eating up their daily take.

Thousands of commuters in Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas were stranded yesterday morning after over 400 jeepney drivers and operators belonging to two major transport groups held a lightning protest paralyzing traffic on Samson Road, the major thoroughfare leading to Malabon and Navotas, and catching everyone by surprise.

According to Joven Llena, an officer of the MCU-Sangandaan Drivers and Operators Association, the protesting drivers were members of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) and Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP).

Llena, a driver and operator at the same time, said they started the peaceful transport strike at around 6 a.m. and ended it before 12 noon. The drivers said it was only the beginning of a continuing protest as they vowed to conduct more moves to dramatize their plight due to the presence of over 200 out-of-line buses plying Samson Road in Caloocan up to Letre in Malabon.

Worse, there are over 100 passenger jeepneys illegally plying the LRT-Sangandaan route adding to the dilemma of legitimate drivers and operators of authorized franchises for Sangandaan-MCU, Malabon-Monumento and Navotas-Monumento, Llena said as he appealed to the affected commuters for understanding.

Llena said the existence of out-of-line buses had eaten up their dwindling daily income.

We have been always blamed for the choking traffic problem in the area but the reality is that these buses whose drivers appear to be more abusive than jeepney drivers, are the real culprits, Llena said.

They also blamed alleged unscrupulous officials of the concerned government agencies including the district traffic group headed by Superintendent Manuel Quevedo and local traffic units for permitting buses to operate the route despite the absence of a franchise.

We have informed that ranking traffic officials have been raking in P20,000 to P25,000 monthly from bus operators in protection money aside from smaller amounts being received by officials from local traffic units, the protesting drivers claimed when interviewed during the lightning rally.