PISTON Cebu to hold transport strike on Nov. 22

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Cebu (CNN Philippines, November 20) — A transport group in Cebu on Monday announced it will hold a strike on Wedsnesday to also protest the public utility vehicle modernization (PUV) program.

"PISTON-Cebu will hold a one day work stoppage on Nov. 22 in deference to the feast of the Virgen De Regla from Nov. 20-21, to which Cebuanos from all over the province will flock to," Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) Cebu said in a statement.

The planned strike will coincide with the third day of the protest by its national group against the Dec. 31 deadline for the franchise consolidation of jeepneys.

PISTON Cebu said it is joining the call for the "immediate repeal of the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines and the junking of the current PUV modernization program." It is calling for the scrapping of the franchising consolidation requirement to allow those who previously complied to withdraw their individual franchises.

PISTON Cebu described the modernization program as "nothing but a big business enterprise."

"The public utility jeepney industry will be fully exploited through the forced purchase of imported, very expensive, and non-sustainable vehicles from China, Korea, and Japan," it added.

The group wants to scrap the plans to remove both modern and traditional jeepneys from the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit routes.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Central Visayas director Eduardo Montealto said the government is prepared to deploy buses and additional modern jeepneys to avoid disruption.

"We are very ready in case there are disruptions although I do not think there will be much disruption if drivers here will join the transport strike," Montealto said in a telephone interview.

Ten buses will be deployed for the northern route and 10 others for the southern route on the day of the strike, he said. At least 200 modern jeepneys are also on standby to ply the routes in the Metro Cebu area when needed, he added.

The entire Cebu province has over 4,000 jeepneys; more than 1,300 are modern and 2,800 are traditional.

Israel is a Cebu-based journalist.