By Angel De Mesa
Jeepney will always be our trademark as Filipinos. We Filipinos are always considered thrifty, that’s why we always tend to ride on a jeep instead of a tricycle despite inconvenience.
Well now, here’s the thing. What if the jeepney will be phased out? As the government will implement the modernization program on Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs), jeepneys are one of those unfortunate vehicles of the masses that will be out of the public road especially those who ages 15 years and above.
Today is the day for the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to formally launch its PUV Modernization Program. They encourage everyone to support this program along with other various programs and legislation that will allow the widespread removal of aging PUJs and eventually other PUVs.
Modernization really sounds good and classy, yet knowing the reasons behind this and its sugar-coated agenda are disappointing.
Under the Jeepney Modernization Act, it is said to focus on the development of PUJ’s nationwide, to assure the safety of the commuters, to lessen the volume of carbon emission and lastly to lessen the damage of the PUJ to prevent traffic. These will lead to massive jeepney phase-out knowing that there are 90% of registered private vehicles in the country and the remaining 10% are PUVs.
The substitutes of the old PUJs’ are the E-jeep with an average cost of P800,000 to P1 million per unit and Euro-4 jeep costing P1.2 million to P1.8 million per unit. Drivers and small operators already complaining on these, for they do not have enough money to afford such substitutes.
If PUJ drivers have the freedom to decide whether to go beyond or stick on their working hours before, well now that there is the so called fleet management program, jeepneys will be under the restriction of certain cooperatives and corporation defining drivers’ working hours. Each individual who owns 1 or 2 units of jeepney will be under on one fleet which certainly must composed of 20 units.
There will be more than 600,000 drivers, 200,000 operators, conductor and other semi-transport workers who will be losing their jobs.
It is the common expression of the typical masses to get angry and frustrated every time there is a transport strike, but beyond their protests are profound reasons of the small operators and drivers on the issues they are suffering.
One more thing that keeps the small operators and drivers broke and dishearten is the neoliberal policies that are fastidiously punishing them. It is not the traffic that they are complaining for, it is about the program implementation of uncertain policies directed to hit their economic status in their daily living.
Emergency Traffic Power Bill or Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016 concludes all the sufferings felt and to experience by the transport sector. Besides from the modernization program and fleet management system, there are still rules and policies to be executed that will result to their additional burden.
Sale and transfer of franchise will never be allowed once that Omnibus Franchising Policy takes over. According to the DOTr and LTFRB, process of getting franchise will undergo on a bidding system. Through this, small operators and drivers will loss their rights to avail mainly because of financial incapacity.
DOTC Department Order NO. 2011-25 or the Sheperd Badge ID (PUJ drivers Id) will also be applied for the driver proficiency standard. Drivers are oblige to undergo training under TESDA to pass the eligibility test that costs them about P1,500.00.
Along with these, associations of PUJs and PUVs strictly contradict the Tax reform program that will only cause the hike of basic needs including the gasoline they are using.
Reality speaking, PUV drivers are already crying out because of the high registration price for their vehicles, getting a franchise, high cost of violations due to traffic, enforcers who do money-making scheme and of course the high cost of gasoline due to deregulation.
PUV drivers and small operators already sent their dismay and disappointment regarding these issues. They stand strong in condemning and fighting the neoliberal attacks.
Fundamentally this changes will not just affect the transport sector but also the commuters, most of us, who are also be more pretentious.
Condor Piston Bicol spokesperson Ramon Rescovilla stated that effects for the commuters will be felt at the fare price. If longstanding jeepney now has the minimum fare of P6-8 pesos, E-jeep and Euro-4 engine will be asking for a double or worse triple fare hike averaging at P20 each ride.
Jeepney drivers also extend their worries most especially for the welfare of their family. They will not earn the same amount of money they are working for if they will not drive PUJs. The fear of losing their job and their living arouse up to the DOTr’s program implementation.
The demand of the transport sector along with their problems and sufferings continuously spread throughout in the country. Instead of total phase-out, transport sector calls on the Duterte government to support the rehabilitation of old units of jeepneys and focus on the genuine development of the transportation industry. (BaretangBikolnon.com)