Piston chief vehemently denies representing NDFP in row with columnist

George San Mateo - Pandesal Forum - 24 October 2017

George San Mateo, Piston president, discusses the jeepney modernization program on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, at the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City. (Photo by NOY MOSCOSO / INQURIER.net)

George San Mateo, president of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston), vehemently denied being a representative of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Tuesday, during a heated exchange with a newspaper columnist Herman “Mentong” Tiu Laurel.

The debate started at the Pandesal Forum, a weekly event at the Kamuning Bakery Café in Quezon City, when Laurel asked San Mateo if Piston was a political organization backed by progressive and left-leaning groups.

“Nakakalungkot nga si Presidente [Rodrigo Duterte],” San Mateo told Laurel. “Yung sinasabi niyang political group dahil sumuporta yung KMU [Kilusang Mayo Uno], eh nakipag-dialogue din naman siya dyan eh.”

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San Mateo added, however, that he would still be willing to talk with the President to settle issues on the public utility vehicles (PUV) modernization program.

But Herman insisted on asking if San Mateo if he was representing NDFP.

“Ano kinalaman nun? Namulitika siya eh ang isyu ay modernization?” San Mateo asked Herman.

“I’m not a representative of the NDF here,” he added. “I’m not a representative of the CPP [Communist Party of the Philippines], nor the KMU nor Bayan. I’m representing Piston. Don’t say na kami ay nagde-destabilize. You’re way out of line.”

San Mateo even admitted voting for Duterte in the May 2016 elections as president because of his promises that he would revive the steel industry in the country, a promise that, he said, was later “broken.”

“Kung makapagtayo tayo ng steel industry marami na tayo magagawa nun,” he said. “Makakagawa tayo ng sasakyan, yung agrikultura mamo-modernize natin. Kaya lang after a year wala na tayong narinig tungkol sa pangako nya.”

In a speech last week, Duterte tagged Piston, KMU and Karapatan as legal fronts of the CPP-New People’s Army after the militant groups supported Piston’s nationwide transport strike on Oct. 16 to 17. /atm

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