We were missing in this page yesterday. No thanks to tropical storm Kabayan that hit parts of the Davao Region and appeared to have lashed its “tail” in Davao City.
We had a long power interruption Monday morning that started at about 3:15 early dawn and lasted until about 9:30 a.m. As a result we were unable to use our computer. We wanted to write after power was back but in our estimate we will not be able to meet the deadline for the submission of columns for yesterday’s issue.
Of course incidents of power outages are expected when the weather is not good, more so when a typhoon with winds of 65 kilometers per hour blow down tree trunks or branches that his power lines.
A column back we wrote about the two-week transport strike that two drivers and operators’ associations committed to launch (it was started Monday, December 18) to force government to move the deadline of the consolidation of drivers and operators rank and form either cooperatives or corporations to jumpstart the public utility jeeps modernization process.
In that column of ours we did not mince words in our abhorrence of the groups’ strategy to achieve their objective. We said that by launching a two-week stoppage in plying their routes the transport organizations were actually making the government hostage. Perhaps they believe that they can have their way if they can create a transport crisis simply because they do not agree with the modernization policy. But why are the drivers and operators who claim they are among the poor people in the country using as pawn in their gambit the ordinary working men and women who depend on public transportation in going to their workplace and back home?
They say that they are willing to sacrifice losing their daily income just so the government will be forced to abandon the modernization program. In the process however, they also force the majority of the poor to sacrifice with them. So what happens is that instead of only a few intentionally turning over their cooking pot upside down they unnecessarily drag the others with them.
Yesterday we heard on television that the leaders of the transport organizations were contemplating to elevate their case to the Supreme Court. They want to question the legality of the government program hoping that by so doing the High Court rules in their favor and order the government to stop the modernization process.
We believe that by elevating the issue to the Supreme Court would have been the first and only laudable option for the drivers and operators’ groups to take from the very beginning of their objection to the program.
Have they done that immediately after the government announced the transport modernization plan four or five years ago the groups could have avoided hurting the commuters and restraining them from earning their keeps.
Our recommendation then was for the government not to allow itself to become hostage of publicity-seeking group leaders by once again extending the deadline for the consolidation of drivers and operators. But if only to assuage the group members who insist that they are deprived of their livelihood we also suggested to the government to either increase the subsidy in the purchase of modern jeep units, or, to negotiate with the manufacturers to reduce the cost of the vehicle.
A friend of ours, Marlu Villarosa who used to work with the United States Defense Department shared with us his thoughts on the same issue.
Marlu said that he agreed with us that government must stand its ground in the jeep modernization program; that it should not give in to the “noise” generated by the few drivers and operators.
According to Mr. Villarosa, to give in to the protesting transport groups will simply postpone what is needed to be done for the benefit of the riding public, and to help protect the environment in the process contributing to the efforts of deterring climate change.
Our friend and reader Marlu agrees with our take that the moneyed operator members of the transport groups are the ones agitating the majority of the members to go on transport strike because they know that by joining in the consolidation their income from drivers’ boundaries will be reduced as drivers themselves become members of cooperatives or shareholders of new transport corporations. Thus, they will have commensurate shares from the consolidated franchises.
Our friend and reader Marlu said he is hoping that if government stands its ground and not be swayed by the thoughts of the organizations’ officials, “in the long run and after all the hoopla dies down, the jeep modernization program would translate to better management of our public conveyance for good, making them safe and road worthy for the riding public. Indirectly, it would be something that we can be proud of to our visitors.”
Our friend believes that for now the operator-members only used their drivers to put premium on their overly banded cause. But in reality they only care for their profit and do not really care for the riding public.
And if only to let the groups protesting against the transport modernization program believe that the government is sincere in helping them acquire the modern units, instead of subsidies it should provide low interest loans.
It also has to stop itself from being hostage to this kind of bullying by these oftentimes unreasonable groups. And considering that the modernization program has been postponed many times just to appease the noise created by the protesting groups the government, once and for all has to take side with the majority of the people.
Our friend added that government also needs to instill discipline among drivers and operators. And it has to do the same to the manufacturers and financing institutions by reminding them of their social obligation to moderate their greed for profit. They must make their units affordable to consolidated franchise holders.
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