By Mira Nicole Magbanua and Julius Mariveles
“It is clearly economic sabotage and can be considered a violation of their franchises,” Jeffrey Celiz told DNX ahead of the strike planned by the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center and other activist groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), the activist alliance that Celiz had repeatedly identified as one of the legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and ths National Democratic Front of the Philippines – all designated terrorist groups domestically and abroad.
Celiz, an ace witness of the government against these terror groups, had been chairman of BAYAN in Panay island before he was promoted by the CPP to fulltime underground work in the National Operations Command of the New People’s Army, according to his confessions.
He told DNX the transport strikes led by Left-leaning groups are part of the attempts by the CPP to sabotage the economy just as the country is trying to recover from the slowdown caused by the CoViD19 pandemic.
Celiz said the groups leading the strikes are “fronts” of the CPP and its armed and united front wings – the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, respectively. that aim to make the Left appear relevant.
He said the Transport Modernization Plan of the government had been delayed for at least 13 years due to the “incessant and irrelevant” protests of transport groups who opppse the plan for the sake of opposing it.
“Don’t act gay” was how Diego Malacad reacted to the claims of Celiz that they are fronting for the Communists.
Malacad, secretary general of strike organizer United Negros Drivers and Operators Center, told DNX when sought for comment that Celiz missed the fact that many jeepney owners here are members of the uniformed services.
“Is he saying these services have been infiltrated by the Communists?” Malacad asked.
Celiz, however, brushed aside the strike as a mere irritant, saying the recent one in Metro Manila that grounded a mere five percent of public transport showed the Communists have become irrelevant.
” People don’t believe, don’t listen to them anymore.”
Lawyer Salvador Altura Jr, legal officer and spokesman of the regional franchise board, however, said most of the old jeepney owners here who will join the Monday strike cannot be charged for franchise violations anymore.
He said most of the 3,000 old jeepneys here are not covered by franchises anymore based on records of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Western Visayas.
He added only those who are under the interim arrangement are covered by provisional franchises expected to last only until end of the year.
These old units are attached to modern transport cooperatives or corporations and will service the new loops until the delivery of modern jeepneys shall have been completed.