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Nationwide transport strike set on Dec. 4-5 despite gov’t threats on cancelling franchises, licenses



Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) president George San Mateo said that the transport group will stage their fourth strike all over the country on December 4 to 5 to oppose the government’s jeepney modernization program in 2018.

San Mateo clarified that they are not against phasing out dilapidated jeepneys to make way for new ones, but that they were concerned about how the program will be implemented. They are especially way of how the plan seemed to function as a “front” to promote electric-powered jeepneys and other vehicles that observe the Euro-4 emission standards.

After Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade threatened that the government would revoke the franchises and drivers’ licenses of those who would attend the planned two-day nationwide strike.

Tugade said that the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are ready to act against jeepney drivers would join the strike.

“We have invited Piston to dialogues, but still they insisted on holding strikes. Other transport groups sat down with us and we discussed the program together. Why can’t Piston do that? I am positive that when they do, they will understand and they will agree that it is time to overhaul the public transportation system,” Tugade said in a statement.

Despite Tugade’s threat, though, San Mateo said that the DOTr has not yet provided its route rationalization plan, which is needed for those who want to get new franchises.

Even then, the Piston leader said that he was “willing” to get in prison for opposing the jeepney modernization plan.

“Ang mga e-jeepneys na dispalinghado at hindi angkop sa klimang tropikal at kabundukan ay nagkakahalaga ng P1.8 milyon, o kasinghalaga ng isang SUV (sports utility vehicle) na hindi kayang bilhin ng mga maliliit na operator. Ibabaon sa utang ang mga operator at tiyak na masaker sa kabuhayan nila ang patutunguhan nito,” San Mateo said.

Assistant transport secretary for communications Leah Quiambao said the government has the authority to cancel a franchise, considering how it is merely a “privilege granted by the state.”

A jeepney franchise can be revoked if they go on a strike, said Quiambao.

“Among the conditions upon the grant of franchise is that the [public utility vehicles] will not abandon their routes/lines and prejudice our commuters. Hence, ‘tigil-pasada’ is among the grounds for revocation of franchise,” he said.

In October, President Rodrigo Duterte warned jeepney drivers and operators to modernize by the end of 2017 or he would drag away old jeepneys.

“January 1, if you don’t modernize, get out,” said Duterte. “”I will give you until the end of the month or until the end of the year. Sumunod kayo kasi, January 1, ‘pag may makita akong jeep diyan na hindi nakarehistro, guguyurin ko ‘yan sa harap ninyo.”

Responding to criticisms from Piston and militant groups that the modernization program is anti-poor, Duterte said, “Mahirap kayo? Putang ina, magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam. It’s the majority of the Filipino people. Huwag ninyo ipasubo ang tao.”


Duterte even labeled the transport strike a “rebellion,” branding Piston and militant groups that joined the strike as “legal” fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He also pointed out how the Piston logo has a star in it, similar to the logo of the communists, something which netizens mocked because Piston’s logo does not have a star in it and the President’s logic is flawed.

Piston Metro Baguio reacted to Duterte’s response where he said he does not care that those who participated in the strike were poor.

“Sa presidenteng nagsabing mahirap kami, Sa lahat ng sinabi mo, ito na yata ang pinakatama. Natumbok nyo po mahal naming presidente!” the group said in their open letter to President Duterte that was posted on Facebook.

They talked about how it is true that they are indeed poor, which was why they need to wake up as early as 4 am and rest at around 9pm, while earning only P300 to P500; how they often wondered where to get the money to pay for their children’s schooling and other bills; and how the P80,000 subsidy from the government is too small to help them get the P1.6 million worth of modern jeepney.

“Mahirap kami. P#%*@! Mahirap kami. Kaya lilimusan mo kami ng P80,000 para makabili ng bagong modelong halagang P1,600,000? Kung pag-iipunan ko ito, kailangang doble ang arawang kita ko sa 14 oras na pamamasada. Mahirap kami, at nagsisikap, pero P#%*@!, hindi kami superman,” they wrote.

“Mahirap kami pero nagtatrabaho kami nang marangal para sa pamilya namin at para makatulong sa kapwa naming mahihirap na komyuter,” they added.

“Mahal naming presidente, mahirap kami pero huwag mo kami murahin dahil hindi mo kami pinapalamon,” Piston Metro Baguio said as they concluded their open letter.

There was also another viral letter from a proud son of a jeepney driver who attempted to explain why jeepney operators and drivers oppose the jeepney modernization program.

Reiner Grospe said it was through his father’s efforts as a jeepney driver that he was able to send his kids to good schools.

“We received quality education only privileged children can have. Thanks to this high school graduate, jeepney driver, who toiled all his days driving under the heat of sun, exposed in the polluted air, sitting right adjacent to the vehicle’s steaming hot engine – all these health hazards and more,” he wrote on Facebook on October 16.

He pointed out how slowly the jeepney fare was increasing compared to the rate of increase in price of basic necessities. Just like Piston, he also pointed out how these jeepney drivers can possibly afford to pay for the “eco-friendly” jeepney.

“I am for a better environment and I also find good in replacing old jeepneys. But our “privatized” government suggests to the drivers to avail of the ecofriendly jeepney loan that makes them pay incredibly and way more than the real price of the unit according to Piston,” Grospe wrote.

He also noted how these drivers work “not for profit” but for a living.

“What’s my point? My point is that this sector do what they do for a living and not for profit; to raise families and not to build empires; they are part of the economic cycle and not a pain in the ass. Maybe we can listen to them today. Lets help them take out from the government a better solution for them,” he added.

In preparation for the nationwide strike on December 4 and 5, some local governments have already suspended classes on December 4.


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New DOT chief to ask Montano why he rushed official New York engagement to watch Broadway show



Newly installed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she plans on talking with Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Cesar Montano to ask for his side on certain accusations that were hurled against him.

Among these accusations came from an Abante report where Montano was said to have rushed a speaking engagement staged by the DOT in New York to watch the Broadway musical show “Hamilton.”

DOT reportedly launched the Philippine Tourism Presentation and Dinner Reception on May 9 to showcase Philippine tourism and fashion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Montano was introduced as the event’s keynote speaker, but he was said to have only spoken for a bit before hurriedly leaving the venue, disappointing the guests, which also included US officials.

Montano was said to have been invited to the event in behalf of the now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. He was also named as one of the two hosts, the other being Teo, of the said event.

In reaction to this report about Montano, Puyat said she would talk to Montano as well as the Tourism attache and other DOT officials who attended the event to verify the accusation in the report mentioned above.


Puyat said that she would investigate into the “Buhay Carinderia” program that the TPB is set to implement. This was after Philippine Star Boo Chanco accused Montano of issuing P80-million worth of three checks to the event proponent and organizer.

“I still don’t have the papers. I will be asking [and] will be arranging a meeting with Mr. Cesar Montano to ask about ‘yung mga nabasa ko sa ‘Buhay Carinderia’ – kung totoo ba na walang bidding ‘yung P80 million na advance,” Puyat said on May 15.

“I’m planning to talk to him and ask his side. I want to ask all those who were there if it actually happened,” Puyat added.

In March 2017, TPB employees filed a complaint against Montano for his alleged corruption and mismanagement of the agency. These include hiring friends and relatives, using TPB’s funds for personal trips, and showing incompetence in fulfilling his obligations as the agency’s COO.

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Eldest Tulfo vows to help Wanda clear her name, berates ‘black sheep’ Ben over controversial P60-M DOT ad deal



Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo spoke up about the controversy involving his siblings, now resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and hosts Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over the P60 million tourism ad deal.

The eldest Tulfo wrote in his Inquirer column on May 10 that while President Rodrigo Duterte himself advised the Tulfo family to avoid talking to the media, he took it upon himself as the family’s acting patriarch to tell the story behind the controversy.

First up, Ramon blamed Teo for not hiring smart staff members who could have advised her against inking a deal with PTV 4, where one of the Tulfo brothers, Ben, was a blocktimer.

As a blocktimer, Ben pays for his TV show’s airtime on the state-run channel.

According to Ramon, Wanda was only complying with President Duterte’s injunction for his Cabinet secretaries to support PTV 4, adding that she did not know Ben’s company would get most of the multimillion advertising contract with DOT.

He also hit Ben, whom he called a “black sheep” with a “middle child” syndrome as the fifth child out of 10 siblings, for signing the P60-million advertising contract with PTV 4 despite knowing that there would be a conflict of interest on Wanda’s part.

Ramon also said that Wanda still tried to save Ben, who insisted on his innocence amid the controversy, leading her to resign from her post. He also explained that Wanda seemed to have forgotten the fact that her husband was on the board of director of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), a part of DOT, when Duterte appointed her as tourism chief. He added that it should have been up to her husband to step down from his post upon his wife’s appointment.


In the same column, he also slammed Wanda’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, whom he said did not even consult the Tulfo brothers on returning the P60-million funds from the ad deal. He also described the lawyer as “all talk,” a counsel who’s only focused on gaining publicity for himself.

Unlike what has been previously reported about Wanda resigning out of delicadeza amid the controversy, Ramon let it slip that he commended President Duterte for “sacking Wanda,” prompting some people to ask whether Wanda was fired instead of resigned.

Before he ended his column, he vowed to support “Wanda’s fight to clear her name, but not Ben’s.”
Wanda resigned on May 8 to show delicadeza and to spare everyone, especially Duterte, from the pain caused by the controversy, according to her lawyer.

The issue started with the Commission on Audit’s report showing the DOT paying P60 million worth of commercials to PTV 4, which in turn, tapped Ben’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the tourism ads during Ben and Erwin’s show “Kilos Pronto.”

Malacañang said that Teo’s resignation does not mean that she is off the hook since the Ombudsman is still looking into her and other government officials involved in the controversial ad deal.

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‘Baduy’: Comelec spox calls out candidates imposing their face on Avenger images for campaign posters



Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez called out barangay and SK election candidates who edit their faces onto the images of the Avengers.

Jimenez addressed the candidates through his Twitter account, where he said the candidates who use such tactic during the campaign period are “dumbing down the elections.”

He tweeted, “#BSKE2018 candidates who use campaign posters with their faces superimposed on the bodies of Avengers are dumbing down the elections. Paano yan? Kung sino na lang ang may pinaka-“cool” na poster, ganun?”

He even mentioned the risk that these candidates may be sued for copyright infringement.

“Ginagawa nyong bobo ang mga botante. Ma-copyright infringement sana kayo,” he continued.

In a separate tweet, Jimenez said that putting their faces on the bodies of the Avengers is definitely not a cool move but a “baduy” one.

“Oh, and btw, actually hindi cool yun ipapalit nyo yung mukha nyo sa mukha ng isang Avenger. Baduy yun,” he tweeted.

However, Jimenez said that the Comelec does not have the authority to ban the use of such campaign posters because it can already be considered as “content-based prior restraint.” He added that the poll body only has control over the size of the posters used and where they are displayed, which should be in the “common poster areas” previously determined by Comelec election officers.


The posters will only be deemed illegal “if it is posted outside of the common poster area,” Jimenez said.

But even then, there is an exception to the rule – “to display the materials on private property with the permission of the owner,” he added.

On April 11, Comelec released a resolution prohibiting campaign materials to be posted on trees, electrical wires, light posts, waiting sheds, schools, bridges, traffic signs, sidewalks, public shrines, barangay halls, airports, health centers, seaports, public transport terminals, trains and train stations, ambulances, government patrol cars, underpasses and overpasses, public announcement boards, and center islands.

According to Comelec Resolution No. 10294, candidates can only use posters that are up to 2 feet by 3 feet in dimension. Rally streamers should not be bigger than 3 feet by 8 feet and should be taken down right after the event.

The same resolution cited that “any and all election propaganda should bear and be identified by the reasonably legible or audible words ‘political advertisement paid for’ followed by true and correct name of the candidate, as well as the words ‘printed free of charge’ or ‘airtime for this broadcast was provided free of charge.”

The nine-day campaign period for the barangay and SK elections started at 12 a.m. on May 4 and will continue until May 12, two days before the election on May 14.

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