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Palace defends transport leader’s arrest: Sinabihan nang wag mag-strike tumuloy pa rin!

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Malacañang has defended the issuance of an arrest order by a Quezon City court for Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide national president George San Mateo for leading a transport strike in October.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday (November 5) said it is illegal for San Mateo to stage a transport strike since he is a holder of certificate of public convenience.

“The warning was made. He defied. He now has to face the consequences,” he said at a press briefing.

“They were warned that although there is freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, it is limited in the case of holders of certificates of public convenience because the law says so and the law metes the penalty,” he added.

Roque said authorities just followed the rule of law when they arrested San Mateo earlier in the day because of the warrant issued by Judge Don Ace Mariano Alagar of the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 43.

The court found probable cause against San Mateo for violation of Section 20 (k) of the Commonwealth Act No. 146 or The Public Service Act.

Roque clarified that San Mateo’s arrest is not connected with President Rodrigo Duterte’s warning that he will arrest the legal fronts used by communists.

“This has something to do with violating the Public Service law. Well, it sends the message that if you violate the law, you will be prosecuted by authorities. That is after all the duty of the state ‘no. We can’t have it any other way,” he said.

PISTON staged a transport strike in October to protest the Department of Transportation’s jeepney modernization program.

Roque, an abogado, said that while jeepney drivers have the right to protest, they should not cause inconvenience to the public since their franchise to operate is a privilege.

“If you will be a tool to inconvenience the public, then that’s a violation of the trust repose in you by the state because that certificate of a public convenience is not a right,” he said.