DOTr warns jeepney drivers: Join transport strike, be punished

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will not hesitate to punish jeepney drivers who will join transportation strikes within the month, the agency announced on Sunday, October 7.

"We would like to emphasize that our stand remains the same, and will continue to be firm: The DOTr- LTFRB will not tolerate any transport strike. We will make sure that the rule of law shall prevails and will be enforced," the DOTr said in a statement.

What transport strike? The DOTr was responding to the announcement of at least one transport group to launch a strike to protest rising fuel prices

The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP) has announced the plan of its members to stop jeepney services, according to a Pilipino Star Ngayon report.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), at Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator ng Pilipinas Genuine Organization (STOP and GO) hinted of a mass protest, as reported by ABS-CBN News.

Not the first threat:  This is not the first time that the DOTr warned of sanctions against striking public utility vehicle drivers. Back in 2017 when a nationwide protest was held against the DOTr's jeepney modernization program, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) threatened to revoke licenses.

According to the DOTr, "the law clearly states that being granted public transport franchises is a privilege and a public responsibility" and that holding a strike would violate that privilege.

"The riding public do not deserve the inconvenience the transport strike will bring," the DOTr insisted.

What law is violated by PUJ strikes? Asked in 2017 for the basis of the sanctions, LTFRB spokesperson Aileen Lizada pointed to their Memorandum Circular (MC) 2011-004, which prohibited drivers from joining strikes as a means of protest.

The MC states: "The PUV (Public Utility Vehicle) operator shall not resort to [a] cessation of service as a sign or demonstration of protest against any government decision or action under pain of suspension or cancellation of the authority to operate granted by the Board." –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.