MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) on Tuesday, March 20, called out Malacañang for spreading "fake news" that the group has continued its transportation strike that day.
Piston national president George San Mateo said in a text message to Rappler that Malacañang, in insisting on the false claim, was apparently out to fan public hatred against transportation groups that participated in the strike on Monday, March 19.
"The fake news of Malacañang aims to create confusion among the people. And to fan hatred against our drivers," San Mateo told Rappler.
When asked whether there was a strike on Tuesday, which Malacañang used as basis to suspend classes in all levels in Metro Manila that day, San Mateo said: "Wala po. Ang nagkalat niyan ‘yung pahayag ni Harry Roque na isususpindi daw ng gobyerno ang klase hanggang Biyernes. Kaya fake news 'yang pahayag ni Roque."
(There is none. Harry Roque spread that through his announcement that the government will suspend classes until Friday. So Roque's announcement is fake news.)
"Madaming media kahapon sa rally centers pati mga pulis, MMDA, at LTFRB officials nagmonitor sa rali kahapon. I even talked with QCPD Director General Eleazar na nagpunta sa rali kahapon. Alam nila lahat na hanggang kahapon lang ang strike," he added.
(There were a lot of media at the rally centers, as well as police, MMDA, and LTFRB officials monitoring yesterday. I even talked with Quezon City Police District director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar who went to the rally yesterday. They all know that the strike would only be until yesterday.)
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it has not monitored any threats in Metro Manila, contrary to the basis of Malacañang for suspending classes on Tuesday.
"Wala pa kaming namo-monitor (We have not monitored any threats)," PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao told reporters on Tuesday in a Camp Crame press briefing.
In explaining the class suspension, Roque said late Tuesday morning that "the President has instructed that he will suspend classes even with the slightest threat of a strike to ensure the protection and well-being of students." (READ: Who won the March 19 transport strike?)
The Palace official had also said that Malacañang may suspend classes for the rest of the week because of the transportation strike, which groups staged on Monday as part of their continuing protest against the government's jeepney modernization program. – Rappler.com