Police vs Transport Strike Shows Marcos Siding with Profit

April 30, 2024

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), as an NGO that empowers workers in the formal and informal sectors of the economy to claim their labor and human rights, condemns police forces’ harassment of the jeepney drivers and operators and their supporters who started a transport strike yesterday, April 29.

Police forces were massively deployed in various parts of Metro Manila. They warned jeepney drivers and operators and their supporters against holding the strike. By their presence, they intimidated other jeepney drivers and operators and commuters to prevent them from participating. They also blocked the protesters from setting up protest centers and proceeding to certain routes.

The actions of the police forces yesterday violate the protesters’ right to freedom of expression and opinion. This right should be respected by the government and the police forces by itself, and especially since the jeepney drivers and operators, the core of the protest, are expressing opposition to the government’s denial of their livelihoods.

The repression against the jeepney drivers and operators and their supporters, the imposition of the April 30 deadline for franchise consolidation, and the whole phaseout scheme to modernize public utility vehicles (PUVs) — all these show that the Ferdinand Marcos Jr government is not listening anymore to the aggrieved sectors and is siding with corporate profit.

The Marcos Jr government’s actions on the PUV modernization scheme are unacceptable. Jeepneys are not the main causes of the country’s transportation and environmental woes. If solving traffic and protecting the environment are really the objectives, the government should be doing many other more important things. There is no reason to leave behind, much less repress, the country’s jeepney drivers and operators.

The police harassment of the transport strike yesterday confirms the public’s view of the Marcos Jr government’s real motive in the PUV modernization scheme: upholding corporate interests. The scheme does not touch on car manufacturer’s choking of the country’s roads with their products. More to the point, it will bring PUVs under corporate control, even if this means getting jeepney drivers and operators buried in debt.

We condemn the police’s harassment of the transport strike yesterday and demand that it stops today until the end of the strike tomorrow. We call on the Marcos Jr government to engage in a dialogue with the jeepney drivers and operators and come up with a mutually agreed plan and timetable for PUV modernization. We call on the government to break free from corporate dictates on the transportation sector and the environment.###