Group says public transport in Davao 92% paralyzed

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 September) – Public transport here was paralyzed by 92 percent in today’s nationwide transport strike to dramatize the demand for a rollback in the prices of petroleum products, a progressive group here declared.

Edil Gonzaga, secretary general of Transmission-Piston, told reporters that the figure only showed the sentiment of the transport sector against the skyrocketing oil prices in the country.

Gonzaga also chided the fuel subsidy program of President Benigno Aquino III, saying it is not the concrete solution to the continuing increases.

“What we need from PNoy is a smart will that brings substantial solution to our plight,” he said.

Like in the past, the transport group also reiterated its call for the scrapping of the Oil Deregulation Law.

But Traffic Management Center chief Desiderio Cloribel said strike only 80 percent of the public transport was paralyzed based on their monitoring that started as early as 6am.

To augment the crippled public transport system, the TMC chief added that the city government mobilized 40 buses and 20 dump trucks to transport stranded commuters in major routes of the city.

But Lino Camposano, driver of the bus company Bachelor Express, said that they only earned a little as they ply downtown to Toril district compared to their regular Davao-Butuan route.

Since many jeepney drivers were still plying the downtown-Toril route, Camposano said they would only pick up a few passengers.

“If they participated in the strike, we would be able to earn more. But with this situation, I doubt if we can earn as much as we earn in our regular route,” he said.

In their regular trips to Butuan City, Camposano bared that if they can meet their P15,000 quota in a one-way trip, they would get at least 10 percent of the total collection.

Metro Shuttle Bus conductor Junjun dela Salde also shared the same sentiment, saying he and his driver would also earn less compared to their regular Davao-Tagum route.

“Conductors are entitled to get 6 percent and the drivers 8 percent from the total collection of the day,” Salde said.

Normally, he said, they can have six trips in a day in their regular route. “Although today we can also have six trips in this downtown-Lasang route, we don’t expect to earn as much as we do in our regular routes because there are jeepney drivers who did not join the strike.”

But while most the jeepneys plying the downtown-Sasa route participated in the transport strike, Alejandro Catipan opted not to join the protest action to earn just enough food for his family for the day.

“I also sympathize with my fellow drivers but since I was not able to drive yesterday, I would only drive for maybe four hours just enough for our food for the day and rent for the jeep,” said Catipan, who started to operate 11am in sympathy to his fellow drivers who participated in the strike.

He added that only few of his fellow drivers plying the route opted to operate. ”Like me, they will only drive for a few hours just enough to earn money to be able to buy their food for the day.”

On the heels of the first major protest on the issue of skyrocketing oil prices under the Aquino administration, Malacañang announced that the President had approved a P500-million fuel subsidy. But in Executive Order 32 which was issued a week after the subsidy was approved the amount was reduced to P450 million.

According to the President, the money will come from “savings of government due to increased revenues” and will subsidize a portion of fuel consumed by public utility vehicles except buses. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)