PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not budge on his tough stance supporting jeepney modernization despite strong opposition against it, Malacanang said Wednesday.
But it remains open to healthier dialogue with transport groups, who will be greatly affected by the new program.
“When public good is at stake, the Duterte administration will not compromise,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“The President’s fervid support of modernization goes back to the attempts of previous administrations to do the same but had been thwarted due to similar ideologically based transport strikes and protests,” he added.
Abella said the President’s pronouncements supporting the government’s plan towards jeepney modernization “underscores the national leadership’s strong political will and decisive stance to initiate reform in the public transportation sector.”
“Government is open to more healthy dialogue, discussion and responsible engagements with transport groups that wish to learn and contribute to the development of the PUV Modernization Program,” Abella said.
Abella also warned against “some ideological influences [which] can derail the greater good.”
On Tuesday, Duterte accused jeepney operators and drivers who staged a two-day transport strike of conniving with the communists to overthrow him.
“If they will not comply with the government’s modernization program by the end of the year, they would be arrested and their units impounded,” Duterte warned.
Duterte did not mince his words even against small jeepney operators who opposed the government’s modernization program – saying he didn’t care if their families would go hungry.
The President also accused the transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper and Opereytor Nationwide or Piston, which led the two-day jeepney strike, of conspiring with the legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines to have him thrown out of office.