BCOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Leaders of old transport groups here went on their knees to pray today as a surprise “friendly strike” by a splinter group with members cobbled from those who bolted the old ones kept their members off the streets in a counterpart local action here that police said was even barely felt.
In a seemingly token action far from the 80s and 90s when activists could ground public transport almost to a halt, police said the action was even barely felt.
Deputy traffic chief Major Junji Liba said he estimates only around 200 old jeepneys took part in the “friendly strike” out of the close to 2,500 units still plying the city streets.
Even sitting Mayor Albee Benitez thanked old jeepney groups for not reciprocating the week-long Manibela-led strike in Metro Manila with local actions.
Three groups – the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC), Sentrong Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Negros (SSTON) and Federation of Bacolod Drivers Association (FEBACDA) held a prayer rally at the San Sebastian Cathedral this morning, 6 March 2023.
On the streets, however, old jeep operator Rudy Catedral, a previously unknown figure, said other leaders prefer to go to church and express their thanks to Mayor Albee Benitez who has not done something permanent yet to help the old jeepney drivers.
Catedral said there were too many plans and suggestions but all these will end up in the phaseout of traditional jeepneys.
SSTON chairman Alberto Asis said Catedral’s group this group might have other motives aside from fighting for what is right for its members.
“They just want to be famous,” Asis said in Hiligaynon.
Asis said they have been in the sector for years already, they know how things work, and if the mayor himself has not taken any actions for them, they, too will go against his plans.
However, Asis said Benitez continues to do something to help thrm which is why they will follow someone who has the power to make things work for them instead of joining a cause that has not helped its members.