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Transport groups to stage strike even after meeting with PNoy

Saying they were "disappointed" over the outcome of their meeting with President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang last Wednesday, militant transport groups on Thursday said they are pushing through with their plan to stage a transport strike to protest high fuel prices. Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor (PISTON) secretary general George San Mateo said they still have the numbers to stage a strike that can affect public transport. "Ang plano namin tuloy pa rin ang welga," he said in an interview on dzRH radio. He said this is despite the decision of other groups like the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Pasang Masda and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) to back out from the strike plan in deference to Aquino. San Mateo said PISTON still has many transport federations allied with it. He said they were to announce further details of the strike at a press conference in Quezon City Thursday morning. PISTON and other transport groups met with Aquino Wednesday to thresh out the complaints of the transport sector, including high fuel prices and extortion by policemen. San Mateo said that while they were heartened Aquino took time out to meet with them, they were disappointed because the answers he gave were "open-ended." During the meeting, Aquino assured them the government will review the Oil Deregulation Law, which has been blamed for recent fuel price hikes. "Talagang very disappointed kami, we were expecting may mga concrete solutions. Hindi malinaw ang time frame [kailan ire-review], paano gagawin. Pag-aralan ng department paano repasuhin ang Oil Deregulation Law [pero] very general. Puwede sabihin repaso natin yan, certify as urgent bill sa Kongreso, by this date tapos na ito," San Mateo said. San Mateo said Aquino even "reminded" them during the meeting that a transport strike could result in the cancellation of their franchises. "Si Pangulong Aquino mismo nagsabi, sabi niya you are holders of public franchises (Aquino himself reminded us we are the holders of public franchises)," he said when asked if Malacañang hinted at anything to discourage drivers from holding the transport strike. — LBG, GMA News