The ultimate loser

    2044

    EVERY administration faces a transport strike. I don’t recall a particularly stellar response from an administration in particular, and it seems that administrations in general do not know how to respond to a transport strike. I don’t mean that they don’t know how to deploy alternative transport on the day of the strike and suspend classes, but rather, the root cause why our drivers go on strike in the first place.

    I’m not sure who started this “us against them” mentality that government has against our public utility operators and drivers. It certainly hasn’t been helpful, in my view. What’s worse is taking the position that government can “triumph” in the face of a transport strike, further heightening this harmful mentality that it’s a situation to be won, not one to be solved.

    For as long as I’ve been following the national news, regardless of administration, it seems that government has always been on one side and drivers and operators, on the other; what most of those in power seem to be missing is an actual, workable solution to the root cause of the problem. Of course, not to forget the hundreds of thousands of commuters stuck between this push-and-pull between government and the transport groups.

    The crux of the matter seems to be what drivers view as draconian: the proposed modernization plan. Back in the day, operators and groups were okay with jeepney modernization, but were concerned about the high cost of the new jeeps. It fell to government to find ways to finance this, and to make sure that the repayment terms were not a burden to the drivers. The problem with government finance is that resources are finite; funding one project can mean taking money out for another. It’s a delicate balancing act that should be treaded carefully, lest something unintended slip by.

    The strange thing is, a situation like this is surely up the alley of an administration that built itself on tapang at malasakit. You’d think they’d have something up their sleeve for times like these, but so far they haven’t done anything than suspend classes whenever a strike is declared. Also, I expected that this administration would be a little less allergic to subsidies than the previous, given their propensity to crow about how they are one with the every man.

    It seems that the opposite is the case, and the administration’s spin doctors are painting the strikers as the enemy. This is their usual play, of course, no different than the way they demonized Sen. Leila De Lima or Vice President Leni Robredo. Unfortunately, it is the vulnerable in society that is most affected by this: the daily wage earner who already has to slog through four hours of traffic, compounded by having to find a ride during rush hour (in some cases, six.) Tomorrow will be another day, and once the drivers go back to plying their routes, it’ll get a little better. But not by much, until government finds a way to stop treating operators and drivers as the enemy in order to address the root cause of the strike problem.

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