Piston: Continuing to fight for the transport sector

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Since its creation, Piston has staged many protests through various means.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Hundreds of jeepney drivers and operators on Monday (December 14) held protests in different parts of the country to oppose the government's plan to phase out old jeepneys.

The government is eying to phase out jeepneys that are over 15 years old. Though there is no date yet when the the policy would be implemented, protesters said about 600,000 drivers and 250,000 operators would be affected if it pushes through.

Related: Drivers, operators protest against jeepney phaseout

One of the transport groups that participated was Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).

Piston conducted a protest caravan that ran from Elliptical Road in Quezon City to Mendiola in Manila. Its members in Baguio, Cebu, Tacloban and Davao also joined the protest and held a noise barrage in their respective areas.

What is Piston?

Established in 1981, Piston is an organization - headed by George San Mateo - that focuses on the public transportation sector.

It is known for fighting the genuine rights of drivers and operators of public utility vehicles (PUVs), such as jeepneys, taxi, vans, multicabs, tricycles, pedicabs and buses.

Piston will participate in the 2016 elections as a party-list. The following are its principles:

  • Kailangang isulong ang kapakanan sa ekonomiya, pulitika, at lipunan nating mga drayber, maliliit na operator at mga manggagawa sa pampublikong transportasyon.
  • Upang higit na mapabuti ang gating kalagayan, kailangang itaguyod ng sector ang sama-samang pag-aaral, pagbubuo ng organisasyon, at pagkilos.
  • Malulutas ang mga problema ng sector sa pakikipagkaisa sa mga manggagawa, magsasaka at iba pang inaaping sector para magkaroon ng tunay na pagbabago sa bansa.
  • Kailangang ipaglaban ang karapatan ng mga manggagawa, magsasaka at mamamayan. Tampok ditto ang disenteng trabaho, reporma sa lupa, nakabubuhay na sahod, disente at ligtas na paninirahan, at abot-kaya kung hindi man libreng mga serbisyong panlipunan.
  • Para maiangat ang kalagayan ng buong sambayanan, kailangan ang pambansang industriyalisasyon at tunay na repormang agraryo.

Piston's past protests

Since its creation, Piston has staged many protests through various means.

In 2012, Piston, aside from opposing oil price hikes, launched a protest caravan against Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board's (LTFRB) policy to impose a mandatory UV Express model-year phase out. That same year, the transport group called for justice regarding alleged political killings under the Aquino administration.

The following year, Piston began a party-list campaign set to condemn an oil price hike. It went to the three big oil companies - Petron, Shell, and Chevron - held a motorcade from Taft Avenue to Monumento. Also in 2013, Piston started a campaign on Twibbon to fight oil cartel and corrupt government officials.

In March 2015, Piston held a nationwide protest, calling for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III for his "sins" against the transport sector. San Mateo, the group's president, said "overpricing" in oil products is prevalent under Aquino's administration, which also refused to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law.

The group also complained about the increase of fares in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) despite trains of both systems experiencing glitches and accidents.

CNN Philippines correspondents Ivy Sunar and Rex Remitio and intern Helene Flores contributed to this report.