To strike or not to strike

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Saturday, July 19, 2014


LAST Saturday, or July 12, the National Confederation of Transportworkers’ Union (NCTU) announced it would hold a transport strike on July 21, or tomorrow, to oppose Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01.

The group claims JAO 2014-01 carries “oppressive” fines and penalties for traffic violations. And they are not alone. Local and national transport groups feel the same way.

Greg Perez, coordinator of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide Cebu, said the increased penalties will be an additional financial burden to them.

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“Drivers earn very little. If we’re caught for a violation, we’d be made to pay a fine of P1,000 to P15,000. What do they think of us, millionaires?” Perez said in Cebuano.

Not millionaires, Mr. Perez, but law-abiding citizens who can read and understand traffic signs. You know, like not stopping in a “no stopping” zone or not staying put to wait for passengers while the green light is on. Simple stuff like that.

I get it. They want the law to cut them some slack. After all, they’re just trying to earn an honest living, right? But they’re forgetting that JAO 2014-01 applies to everyone.

Yes, transport groups. You’re not being singled out. You’re not special.

To quote a famous Shakespeare line: “If you catch us driving drunk, don’t we also have to cough up between P20,000 and P500,000 for fines?”

And no, I’m not referring to William of the Stratford-upon-Avon fame, but to Potot who hangs out at the makeshift bar on the sidewalk of P. del Rosario St. where he likes to break out into a poem after a bottle or two. And I’m not talking about small bottles.

Seriously, though, the good thing that came out of the strike announcement was that it galvanized local government units (LGUs) into action.

As early as last Tuesday, the Cebu City Government said 26 Kaoshiung buses and other barangay-owned vehicles would be on standby in key areas in the city to transport stranded commuters.

The city governments of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu said it would also deploy vehicles.

LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon issued a memorandum circular allowing public utility buses to ply the jeepney routes.

Citom operations division head Joy Tumulak said they’ve also asked the police and barangay captains for assistance. Police stations and barangay halls are equipped with communication systems that allow them to relay the request for transportation to Cebu City’s command center.

Last Wednesday, jeepney and taxi drivers appeared before the Cebu City Council and asked the body to come up with a resolution asking the LTO, LTFRB and the DOTC to stop implementing JAO 2014-01.

Last Thursday, Romeo Armamento, NCTU Visayas chapter vice president, urged the LGUs to prepare transport schemes for the day of the strike. He said they also sent notices to the Cebu archdiocese, the affected LGUs, DepEd, Ched and major establishments to help inform commuters about the transport strike.

So caring. So concerned about public welfare. Armamento certainly lives up to his name. O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou when workers may end up losing a day’s earning because they all couldn’t get a ride to and from work?

Well, he’ll probably be in the office. Taking phone calls. Checking out his Facebook.

Maybe going out for a quick nosh around noon. A short siesta afterwards. Perhaps. Then it’ll be back at work. Maybe punching out around five, although he’s a high-ranking NCTU official so I doubt that.

You see, Romeo announced last Friday that they were calling off the strike.

The nerve!

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 20, 2014.

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