N. Mindanao transport groups to join nationwide strike

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/15 Sept) – To show its discontent over President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s inaction to address the unabated surge of oil price increases, transport groups under the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) and its allied sectoral organizations will launch a nationwide transport strike on Monday.

In Northern Mindanao, the Solidarity of Transport Alliance in Region X (STAREX), a local affiliate of PISTON, will mobilize its member-organizations from this city and those from Bukidnon and the cities of Iligan and Gingoog, said STAREX chairperson Santos Hinosolango.

“We are expecting a large turnout since our member-organizations have committed their participation for the transport strike next week,” Hinosolango said in a phone interview.

He said they will hold “persuasion points” at the major junctions of Barangay Puerto, Lapasan, Carmen, Bulua and Velez St.-national highway. The strike will officially start at 4 a.m. and will end at 3 p.m. Protesters will convergence for a short program at the Velez St-national highway junction.

“The Aquino administration insists its Pantawid Pasada Program, a mere doleout program that is clearly meant to coopt the transport sector. PNoy also continually refuses a rollback even with the obvious overpricing of oil products by nine pesos more or less,” said Hinosolango.

“I enjoin everybody to join the transport strike. Let us show the Aquino administration that we can no longer bear the wanton oil price increases, especially since the increases here in the provinces are much higher compared to the increases in the National Capital Region (NCR),” he said.

For its part, Makabayan Coalition slams the Aquino administration for “covering up for the Big Three Oil Cartel.” Makabayan Coalition is a coalition of progressive party-list groups and politicians across the country.

In a phone interview Thursday, Makabayan Coalition spokesperson Liza Maza said Malacañang’s latest pronouncement about public optimism on the quality of life for the next 12 months based on a recent survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS) “only serves to cover up the growing pessimism of its inaction over the surge of oil prices.”

“The spokesperson of Malacañang conveniently cited only the SWS’s survey for ABC sectors in Luzon to project that public optimism may be up since March,” she said.

According to the same survey, however, Maza said, the perceived direction of the quality of life for the poorer sectors (i.e., D and E) has remained unchanged and for the Visayas and Mindanao has “actually gone down to five and three points, respectively.”

“The real prevailing public perception,” she added, “is that the Aquino administration is just covering up for the Big Three Oil Cartel (referring to Shell, Petron and Caltex) to the detriment of consumers, business and the nation’s interest.”

Maza said Malacañang showed where its bias lays when “it shot down Makabayan’s humble petition before the Department of Finance to suspend the 12-percent value-added tax on oil products despite the P4.4-billion in windfall that it gained in previous oil price hikes.”

“The Palace continues to insist on so-called belt-tightening measures even as the people are getting poorer and the cost of doing business is getting worse for any meaningful capital build-up. Until now, Aquino has not included House Bill 4355 or The Downstream Oil Industry Regulation Act among his 13 priority bills in Congress,” she said. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)