CLOSE to a thousand operators and drivers of public utility jeeps in Baguio City and Benguet joined the nationwide strike against the phasing out of 15–year-old jeeps in the country, on Monday in front of Department of Transportation (DOTr)-Cordillera Administrative Region office.

Metro Baguio-Piston president Carlito Wayos said they are standing firm against the phase-out of jeeps due to possible effect to small operators and drivers in Baguio and Benguet as well as other places in the country.

"We did this march rally instead of a strike to show our oneness nationwide with other drivers and operators. We went in front of DOTr to show that we have concerns regarding this phasing out of jeeps," Wayos said who led the group of jeepeney drives then that to Igorot Park via Assumption Road.

Wayos said the DOTr draft order phasing out jeeps should not be implemented.

Wayos added if the order will continue, around 8,000 jeepney operators and drivers in Baguio City and Benguet will be affected including their families.

Piston national have also submitted their position papers to the transportation department central office. Further dialogue are also expected.

"It has a big effect for our commuters if our jeepneys will be phased out, there is a possibility the fare will increase also. Our family will be also affected. We are just earning minimal which is something for our basic needs. Driving gives life for us. Some auto shops will be also affected because if there are no jeeps to repair then they will not earn also," Ernesto Labasen, a driver of Baguio-Tuding route said.

Driver Junior Saydawen added, "If our jeeps are old, we will repair rather than buy a new one which is costly. If the phasing out will happen then we will be affected and we do not know how we will get food."