Commuters rally behind transport groups’ week-long strike

March 1, 2023 - 2:51 PM
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Photo shows a jeepney and its passengers (Walter Bollozos/The Philippine STAR)

Commuters expressed their support and understanding for the week-long strike of transport groups as a protest against the total phaseout of traditional jeepneys.

In a press conference on Monday, transport groups Manibela, Laban TNVS and Piston announced that they will hold a transport strike from March 6 to 12 to convince the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to suspend implementation of the public utility vehicle modernization program. 

Around 40,000 jeepneys and UV Express vehicles are expected to participate in the strike in Metro Manila alone, Manibela national president Mar Valbuena said.

This came after the release of LTFRB’s Memorandum Circular 2023-013 which said that individual operators of traditional jeepneys will no longer be allowed to operate after June 30, 2023 — unless they start joining a cooperative or a corporation.

Meanwhile, those individual operators who are able to join a cooperative or cooperation are only allowed to ply until the end of the year. 

The consolidated entities are to be set up supposedly to allow operators to afford the purchase of modern jeepneys through loans from financial institutions.

RELATED: ‘Last trip’: Individual traditional jeepneys to stop operations after June 30

Under the public utility vehicle modernization program, operators are required to shift to modern units. A modern unit costs P2.4 million to P2.8 million, compared to a traditional jeepney unit which ranges from P200,000 to P600,000, according to Piston. 

RELATED: As Philippines scraps jeepneys, operators struggle with costs |
Piston slams June 30 jeepney phaseout order, says minibuses worth P2.8-M burying operators in debt

Commuters

While commuters admitted the inconvenience of the week-long transport strike, they recognized that the livelihoods of public utility vehicle drivers are on the line in the upcoming modernization. 

“THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE INCONVENIENT. It’s supposed to point out how vital they are in our everyday lives and that losing their jobs would mean effectively paralyzing movement,” an online user wrote

“[People] talking about the inconvenience this will bring to commuters but did you ever stop to think that these jeepney and UV drivers are voluntarily cutting off their main (and probably only) source of income for a week to stage this protest that alone should tell you the gravity of this protest,” a Twitter user said

“A 7-day hardship to commute is NOTHING compared to taking away the livelihood of THOUSANDS of drivers in the future. I said what I said don’t let your privilege show,” a social media user said

“Para sa karamihan INCONVENIENCE para sa mga drivers it would mean KAHIRAPAN” she added.

“‘Kawawa ang commuters.’ That’s the point. It’s a week-long strike to force the government to see how hard our lives will be kapag walang jeepneys. It’s a sacrifice we (including the drivers) have to do dahil commuters din naman ang mahihirapan in the future,” a Twitter user wrote

“Please don’t get mad at our dear jeepney drivers for holding a 7-day transport strike. it’s their only weapon against the oppression of our anti-poor government. instead, let’s support their call and stand in solidarity against jeepney modernization program #NoToJeepneyPhaseout,” a social media user tweeted.

Gov’t response

In an ambush interview with the press, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appealed to transport groups to suspend their week-long strike as many commuters will suffer.

“Kawawa talaga ang mga tao at marami pang naghihirap at mas lalo pang maghihirap pag hindi makapasok sa trabaho,” the president said.  

While Marcos said there is a need to modernize public utility vehicles, he admitted that the implementation of a modernization program is lacking. 

“Doon sa issue sa modoernization na sinasabi, sa aking palagay, kailangan gawin talaga ‘yan. Ngunit sa pag-aaral ko, parang hindi naging maganda ang implementation,” Marcos said

The president said the government will talk to transport groups to change the implementation of the modernization program. 

“Siguro kaya nating kausapin ang mga transport groups at sabihin natin, ‘Hindi, babaguhin talaga namin (jeepney modernization) para hindi masyadong mabigat sa bulsa ng bawat isa,” he said.

Earlier, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista also appealed to transport groups to “sit down and iron out issues concerning the sector” before staging the strike.

Meanwhile, the senators, through a resolution, urged the LTFRB to postpone its planned phaseout of traditional jeepneys. 

RELATED: Senators to government: Delay jeepney phaseout plan