BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Drivers and operators declare a 98 percent paralysis of public transport, as Day 1 of the transport strike finishes with protesters calling for the suspension of the excise tax, a rollback of the prices of oil, as well as an increase in public utility fare.
Diego Malacad of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator (PISTON) tells DNX he estimates paralysis of public transport at 98 percent as of noon of 21 March 2022.
Malacad claims the two percent is for certain units that continue to ply their routes like those in Mansilingan, as well as the taxi drivers who continue their operations.
Bacolod City Police Office spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Sherlock Gabana meanwhile pegged the paralysis at 90 percent saying there are certain units which did not join the strike.
Meanwhile, Federation of Bacolod City Drivers Association president Beth Katalbas said the series of oil price hikes this year has been the worst she has seen so far in her 30 years as transport leader.
She also warned that should the trend continues, with oil prices rising unabated, drivers will find themselves out of a job and could resort to drastic means like selling drugs, robbery, or going to the mountains.
Drivers in 12 strike centers manned their respective forts, with some of them flagging down taxi units and mini-buses and persuading them to join the transport strike.
FEBACDA sergeant-at-arms Juanito Torib, Jr. said the series of oil price hikes have led to the decrease in income of drivers by as much as P400.
They can hardly eat three times a day, and opt to buy a quarter kilo of chicken, as this is the cheapest meat available.
Jonathan Mahilum, president of the Mandalagan-Lacson Libertad Northbound Jeepney Operators and Driver Association said all drivers should unite with calls for a strike as the outcome of what they are fighting for would benefit everyone.
Candidates for various positions also visited the strike centers one of which is Ed Guillem who is running for councilor. He distributed food packs among the drivers.