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Palace puzzled over San Mateo's involvement with transport sector

A Malacañang spokesperson on Tuesday questioned the capacity of George San Mateo to lead a transport group, saying it is unclear whether he is a driver of a public utility vehicle, or an operator. “I am not clear kung in what capacity po—kung spokesperson or he is a driver, he is an operator—if so, kung ano pong public transport, kung ano pong public utility vehicle ‘yung kanyang involvement," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said at a press briefing. San Mateo is the secretary-general of the Pagkakaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper and Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON), the transport group that staged a strike on Monday to protest the alleged overpricing of oil products. At a press briefing, Valte asked San Mateo to enlighten Malacañang on what public utility vehicle he is driving. “I know that he will be happy to clarify kung papaano po ‘yung involvement niya talaga sa PISTON," she said. San Mateo has yet to comment as of posting time. Valte said there are no updates yet if charges are already to be filed against transport franchise holders who joined the rally, although she said that charges will be filed. “We will certainly do so (file cases), but so far wala pa naman kaming naririnig kung meron nang kinasuhan po o meron nang dinetain, wala pa namang kaming ganoong update," she said. Onion skinned Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, for his part, branded militant transport groups as “onion skinned" and a nuisance following last Monday’s “dud" strike. “Whether they would admit it or not, the PISTON-led transport strike is a dud!," Lacierda tweeted on Tuesday. In an interview, he said he personally rode a jeepney around 8:30 a.m. on Monday from Lourdes Drive in Cubao, Quezon City to Sta. Mesa in Manila and vice versa to see how the transport holiday affected the riding public. He said there were enough public vehicles plying around and that the general sentiment of those that he talked to in the jeep felt that the strike was a “perjuicio" as it inconvenienced the public. Vencer Crisostomo, secretary general of Kabataan party-list, chided Lacierda, as well as Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II, for dismissing the transport strike as nuisance instead of solution. The youth leader said Roxas’ statement “reveals his refusal to think deep about the issue" just because he is unaffected by it. "It is so easy for the likes of Roxas to dismiss the people's protest as another annoyance because the continuous oil price hikes do not affect him as a gut issue," Crisostomo said. The real nuisance, he said. is the government's "inaction" to the "unabated" rise of oil prices. Crisostomo countered Lacierda's statement that protesters are part of the problem instead of the solution. - with Andreo C. Calonzo and Marnie R. Tonson/KBK, GMA News