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ILOILO City – Transport groups and sectoral organizations here have expressed to join the nationwide transport strike and people’s holiday against pressing government economic policies on Monday, September 30.

In a statement, the newly-formed alliance Alyansa Kontra PUV Phaseout denounced the Duterte administration for the loss of the livelihoods of drivers, pumpboat crews, and small public utility vehicles’ operators, sidewalk vendors, and farmers, among others.

“This administration is killing the only lifeblood of its people, their livelihoods,” said Edgar Salarda, convenor from the transport groups.

According to Salarda, the government has planned that by July 2020, public jeepneys that did not pass the modernization policy shall not be allowed to operate anymore, affecting thousands of drivers and operators.

“The promise of the modernization program is far from reality,” Salarda stressed.

The promise of cooperativization has failed in Taguig due to expensive prices of modern jeepneys which ran from P2.4 to P3 million, Salarda added.

“Small operators cannot afford these modern vehicles. The high cost of price and maintenance of these modern vehicles did not also bring enough income for the profit-sharing between drivers and operators.”

Aside from the transport groups, farmers and consumers groups opposing the Rice Liberalization Law (RA 11203) will also join the nationwide protest action.

“This is the best time for us to show our collective action and denounce the policies of the Duterte regime that pressed us deeper into hunger and poverty,” said Cris Chavez, coordinator of Anakpawis Panay.

Chavez added that because of unrestricted entry of imported rice in our local markets, the farmgate prices of farmers palay produce have dropped sharply, ranging from P8-P12 per kilo. Palay prices in the same period last year before the implementarion of RA 11203 was recorded at P14-P20 per kilo.

“This will decline further as rice harvests continue this last week of September and mid-October,” he added.

Elmer Forro of Bayan Panay called on the people to join the people’s holiday on Monday.

“This is not just about our transport groups and our farmers and consumers. This protest is about all of us who are suffering from the policies of Duterte that continues to deprived us of our lives and livelihhod,” Forro added.

In Panay, Forro said, vendors on the sidewalk, tricycle drivers in Iloilo and Roxas, pumpboat crews and operators, have already felt the wrath of Duterte’s policies in favor of big capitalists who are trying to monopolized business and transportation in the island.

“Duterte has no heart for the poor. Instead, he is killing us through tokhang, Oplan Kapanatagan, Memo #32, EO #70, and now, by taking away our livelihoods, he wants us to suffer and die slowly.”

“We have no other option but to fight back and demand the junking and repeal of these anti-people policies and ultimately, his removal from office to end all our sufferings,” Forro exclaimed./www.panaytoday.net

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