Stop cunning jeepney phaseout, resume operations now – Anakpawis to gov’t

Stop cunning jeepney phaseout, resume operations now – Anakpawis to gov’t

Manila, Philippines – As the Duterte government selectively allowed public utility vehicles on major thoroughfares, it kept depriving poor drivers and small operators of jeepneys of legitimate source of income and livelihood, virtually displacing them and violating their constitutional rights against economic inequality and for economic opportunities based on freedom of initiative and self-reliance.

“The Duterte regime is cunningly carrying out the much-opposed jeepney phaseout under the guise of upholding physical distancing. Moreover, its deployment of modern public utility vehicles reeks of opportunism, totally neglecting the impact on the affected sectors. This is another manifestation of the regime single-handedly amplifying the detrimental impact of the pandemic to poor sectors,” Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list former representative said in a press statement.

The modern PUVs are at P2.4 million from its previous P1.6 million price tag. Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced that more than 100 routes would be opened, but not for the 55,000 jeepneys in Metro Manila. A measly 300 units of modern PUVs were deployed yesterday that led to mass commuter woes.

“This is another ill-advised policy that directly affects the daily lives of poor sectors. Everybody knows that the poorest worker rely on jeepney on his way to work. This hardship is on top of the rising transportation costs on tricycles. That is why many are commuting on bicycles, but of course, not all could be able to,” the former lawmaker stressed.

He warned against the deliberate and undemocratic phasing out of jeepneys which is actually abandonment of poor drivers and small operators. This has now caused for many drivers to beg on the streets sans their sources of income.

“Duterte transformed the poor drivers from a productive force into beggars. Worse, they have no social amelioration in place. This is government-instigated abandonment and displacement, thus, the call of Piston for ‘Balik Pasada’ is just and urgent,” he said.

He also supported the Piston’s critique that the modern PUVs are not safe and could potentially spread the pandemic. The group slammed Malacanang earlier pronouncements that jeepney operations are being barred as measure of physical distancing, particularly referring to its face-to-face seating arrangement, but modern PUVs are similarly designed. It also noted that airconditioned modern PUVs could make passengers vulnerable to harmful pathogens. The proposed cashless system such as the “beep card” is nothing but privatization, to transform the mass transport sector as market to big corporations, making the term modernization synonymous to being “anti-poor.”

“What should be investigated is where did all the capital or investments for the P2.4 million come from? And who is the main beneficiary of this divergent measure, which is now displacing drivers, operators and even workers of sectors integrated to jeepneys? We urge the people to oppose the anti-poor phaseout of jeepneys and join the call for the resumption of its operations,” he ended. ###

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