Solon deplores 'red-tagging’ of transport strike drivers by VP Duterte

At a glance

  • Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Party-list Rep. France Castro calls out Vice President Sara Duterte for her "insensitive" remark that the planned week-long transport strike of jeepney drivers and operators is linked to communist interests.

  • About 40,000 jeepney and UV express drivers are reportedly expected to join the strike that will run from March 6 to 12.

  • Photos from VP Duterte’s and Rep. Castro’s Facebook pages

House Deputy Minority leader and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Party-list Rep. France Castro on Sunday, March 5, called out Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte for “red-tagging” the group and the public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers who plan to go on strike this week.

Castro hit the official for the insensitive remark after she called the transport strike “communist-inspired” in a statement she released also on Sunday.

"Napakamanhid naman ng ganyang pahayag. Sa halip na salubungin ng pag-unawa ang mga (Her remark is very insensitive. Instead of understanding the) PUV drivers na matatanggalan ng trabaho dahil sa ipinipilit na modernization program ng pamahalaan ay inilalagay pa sila at ang mga grupong tulad ng ACT sa panganib dahil sa panrered-tag sa kanila ng bise presidente mismo (who will lose jobs because of the modernization program being insisted by the government, the drivers and groups like the ACT are being put in danger because of the red-tagging by their own vice president),” the lawmaker said in a statement.

She questioned if those who red-tag the drivers have ever experienced working day and night for a small amount of money, or have lined up with commuters to ride public transport vehicles to work or school.

Castro said the drivers recognize the disruption that the transport strike would bring and are asking for understanding from the commuting public.

However, the lawmaker stressed the need for PUV drivers to air their grievances against the government’s jeepney modernization program, which would require operators of consolidated entities to purchase modern vehicles that cost between P2.4 million and P2.8 million each by the end of this year.

"Maging sensitibo sana ang mga opisyal ng gobyerno sa nararanasan ng kanilang mga nasasakupan (May government officials be sensitive to the experiences of their constituents),” Castro added.

Her remarks came after Duterte criticized her group for expressing support for the transport strike, which will run from March 6 to 12 and would involve some 40,000 traditional jeepneys and UV express units to protest the jeepney modernization program, and calling for the Department of Education (DepEd) to cancel classes in areas that would be affected by the strike.

The program would phase out traditional jeepneys by year’s end.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Party-list filed House Resolution 816 to urge the House House Committee on Transportation to investigate the program's implementation, which the group criticized for its “wholesale monopolization and corporatization” of the public transport system.

“Public transportation in advanced industrialized countries is a public service ensured for all citizens to ensure the the proper functioning of the economy. Modernization should work towards this goal without jeopardizing the livelihood of drivers and commuters,” the group’s statement read.

“It is only understandable and just that drivers and operators exercise their right to redress by holding a transport strike. Kabataan stands with the Filipino people for a genuine pro-people modernization of our public transport system,” it added.