MANILA - (UPATED) Transport groups stopped plying their routes in different parts of the country on Monday, as they urged President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the planned "phaseout" of jeepneys.
Hundreds of drivers from the "No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition" held a rally at the Quezon City Circle in the morning, said one of its convenors, George San Mateo.
"Gusto naming dumulog diretso kay Pangulong Duterte. Kasi siya na lang ang puwedeng makaresolba sa problemang ito," San Mateo told radio DZMM.
(We want to appeal our situation directly before President Duterte because he is the only one who can solve this problem.)
The group later marched towards Mendiola, less than a kilometer away from the President's office at Malacañang.
They were joined by other labor and activist groups, making the Mendiola-Legarda area impassable to traffic, as of 1 p.m.
Similar protests will be held in Cagayan Valley and Southern Luzon regions, and in the provinces of Davao and Cebu, San Mateo said. Other operators in Central Luzon and Bicol regions will also conduct a transport strike for the entire day.
San Mateo said there could be a fare increase to offset the cost of shifting to modern, fuel efficient jeeps, which cost P1.6 million each.
Transportation officials earlier clarified that they were not phasing out old jeepneys, but were introducing modern and environment-friendly units.
The government has approved a P2.26-billion subsidy for jeepney operators and drivers to cover equity for at least 28,000 new units under the modernization program.
The transport groups warned that they will mount a larger rally on the President's State of the Nation Address on July 24 if he ignores Monday's protest caravan.
-- With Jeff Hernaez and Ernie Manio and Dennis Datu, ABS-CBN News