Jeepney group denies destabilization plot in two-day strike

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 16) — A transport group leader denied that the two-day strike, which started on Monday, is part of any destabilization plot.

Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) President George San Mateo said the destabilization plot allegations are "unfair," and are only "diversionary tactics" of the government.

"Ang issue rito ay may legitimate na kilos protesta ang mga driver at jeepney operator kasi mawawalan sila ng kabuhayan. Mawawalan ng kabuhayan at ang gusto ng gobyerno, ibigay itong transportasyon sa malalaking korporasyon," San Mateo told CNN Philippines, Monday morning.

[Translation: The issue is, there is a legitimate protest because drivers and jeepney operators will lose their livelihood. The government wants to privatize public transportation.]

On Sunday, Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board Member Aileen Lizada said they have received reports that the two-day strike will be supported by left-leaning groups and is allegedly aimed at destabilizing the government.

READ: Regulator sees destabilization attempt in transport strike

San Mateo said it is natural for left-leaning groups to support their cause since they are also workers.

The transport group is protesting the impending public utility vehicle modernization program, which they claim will affect more than 600,000 jeepney drivers.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has offered free rides to commuters today in six pickup points to help commuters who may be affected by the strike:

Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City

Luneta Grandstand in Manila

Orense Guadalupe in Makati

SM Marikina

Philippine Coast Guard in Manila

HK Sun Plaza in Pasay

Aside from the MMDA, the District Public Safety Company of the Manila Police District will also deploy three trucks to transport passengers to and from different points in Manila

As early as Sunday, the Palace announced suspension of classes and government work due to the strike.

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel  and Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.