KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/19 September) — With most public utility vehicles still plying their routes here and in the other municipalities of South Cotabato, police assessed the transport strike organized by militant groups to have fizzled out in the province and neighboring areas.
The number of tricycles, the main mode of transport in this regional seat of government of Southwestern Mindanao or Region 12, was just the same as in normal days.
Buses and passenger vans also plied the routes in various parts of the province and other neighboring and far destinations.
Except for the town of Polomolok, the transport strike called by the Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) was also not felt in the nine other municipalities of South Cotabato, the police monitored.
“Generally, the transport strike fizzled out all over South Cotabato. Flow of traffic in the streets was normal,” said Supt. Jemuel Siason, spokesperson of the provincial police command.
In Polomolok, Siason said there was a “slightly significant participation” among the drivers because of organized militant groups there.
In this city, also the capital of South Cotabato, government vehicles were put on standby just in case the strike would cause transport paralysis, he added.
Around 50 protesters from various militant groups gathered in front of the Iglesia ni Kristo along the national highway early morning but later on left the area, with a few later seen huddling beside the round ball area.
No barricades were set up in the roads in this city unlike years before to force public and private transport drivers to join the protest. Also, no passengers were seen stranded in the streets or in the terminals.
Ryan Lariba, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Socsksargen chapter spokesman, said that various militant groups kicked off their protest actions as early as 5 a.m. in parts of the region.
“We want to send a message to our government that our people, especially the drivers, are hurting from the series of fuel price increases,” he told reporters.
Lariba said they were demanding for a rollback as the prices of fuel were overpriced by at least P9/liter, citing a study by their group.
The protesters also called on the government to scrap the oil deregulation law as well as remove the value added tax on fuel products. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)