Bar 2019 topnotcher offers help to free 6 detained jeepney drivers

June 4, 2020 - 9:30 PM
This June 4, 2020 photo shows the six jeepney drivers including Piston deputy secretary-general Ruben Baylon and 72-year-old Elmer Cordero who were detained for disobedience charges. (Piston/Released)

Bar 2019 topnotcher Mae Diane Azores expressed her intent to help the six jeepney drivers who were recently arrested in Caloocan City for alleged quarantine violations.

Azores, a Certified Public Accountant who works as a state auditor, is also a daughter of a jeepney driver. She topped the 2019 Bar examinations with a score of 91.049%.

RELATED: ‘Good news’ amid COVID-19 pandemic: Bar topnotchers and their success stories

On Thursday, lawyer Henrie Famorcan Enaje, who is providing legal assistance to the six detained drivers called the “Piston 6,” shared a screenshot of a direct message from Azores. She asked how she could help their case. 

Enaje’s post gained 9,900 reactions and 5,200 shares on Facebook.

On the same day, Azores also retweeted the post of Piston Philippines, a transport rights group for jeepneys, which called for donations either in-kind or in cash to help jeepney drivers whose livelihoods were affected by the government-imposed community quarantine. 

“Call for donations for #Piston6,” Azores wrote. 

The post attached an infographic that listed down the necessities of the drivers and their families including surgical masks, canned goods and rubbing alcohol, medicine, among others.

The graphic also bore the details where Filipinos can course their cash donations.  

 Tumatanggap ang Piston ng anumang tulong at suporta para sa pamilya ng mga tsuper na halos tatlong buwan nang pinagbabawalang bumiyahe,” the post read on June 2.  

Azores previously said in interviews that she aims to help the Filipino workers affected during the pandemic. 

Jeepney drivers were among those severely affected by the strict travel restrictions the national government imposed since last March to help curb the novel coronavirus transmissions in the country.  

Following the partial lifting of the lockdown this week, the Department of Transportation still did not yet allow their operations, along with express vans, in Metro Manila. 

Azores’ offer to provide help for the Piston 6 was praised by online users.

What happened to Piston 6? 

On June 2 or the second day of the general community quarantine, Piston deputy secretary-general Ruben Baylon and five other drivers staged a rally in Caloocan City against the government’s standing suspension on jeepney operations 

Piston reported on its social accounts that they were arrested for violating the social distancing measures, ban on on-site gathering and charges of resistance to persons in authority.  

Based on reports, the detained drivers are facing a fine worth P3,000 each despite them not earning income for three months.  

In its statement, Piston denounced the arrest and argued that the drivers complied with the GCQ rules when they took part in the street rally called “Busina Para sa Balik Pasada.” 

Bagama’t mahigpit nilang pinatupad ang physical distancing at nagsuot sila ng facemask, inaresto pa rin ng mga pulis at dinala sa presinto sa Sangandaan ang mga drayber,” the group said.  

On Wednesday Enaje shared on Facebook that the drivers are still detained after their virtual inquest proceedings that afternoon.  

Sa kulungan ulit matutulog sila Tatay Elmer at lima pang jeepney drivers, sa isang pirasong plywood sa loob ng mainit at siksikang kulungan sa Caloocan,” he said

“Kaninang umaga ay nagrapid test daw sa mga nasa kulungan, may namatay kasing suspected COVID19 patient noong isang araw sabi ng pulis,” he added.  

In view of this, some organizations launched the hashtag #FreePiston6 to call for the release of the detained drivers.

They are also calling for cash donations to help free them and help other drivers who are not earning amid the pandemic due to the ongoing jeepney ban and looming phaseout of jeepneys that are 15 years and older.