Read: Jeepney drivers hold nationwide protest vs jeepney phaseout
The No To Jeepney Phaseout Coalition points to Mar Roxas as one of the prime movers of the jeepney phase out plan when he was still Transportation secretary.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – At the simultaneous protests held nationwide by member organizations of No To Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, they exposed the hand of Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas in the imposition of the scheme.
In the program held at Chino Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola), the transport leaders shared that the jeepney phaseout program and its components such as forcing operators to place themselves under a fleet management system; requiring them to install GPS in their jeepneys, to junk their current jeepneys and replace it with more expensive, wholly imported units (to be amortized via the Development Bank of the Philippines), was first brought out to transport leaders by current Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Mar Roxas when he was still Transportation secretary.
“When he became secretary of the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), he brought his friend Joseph Emilio Abaya who just continued what he began,” said Fred del Mundo, a transport leader with Pasang Masda for 10 years. He now condemns its leader, Obet Martin, saying the latter is one of the transport leaders who “collaborated” with the Department of
Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on the phaseout program.
Because of Roxas’ role in it, the No To Jeepney Phaseout Coalition strongly condemns both Abaya and Roxas. In previous protest actions, they burned pictures of these government officials in front of the DOTC offices.
They warned that if the planned phaseout was implemented, it will worsen the poverty and further lower the income of the country’s jeepney drivers and operators. Also, they warned that the commuters would suffer once fleet managers and creditors for the higher-priced jeepneys begin to recover costs.
George San Mateo, chairman of Piston, one of the conveners of No To Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, estimated that the new jeepney transportation “costs” to be borne by drivers would then be higher, translating to higher fares for consumers, or lower income for drivers, or both. He explained that that would happen because on top of perennially rising cost of fuel due to oil deregulation, the private companies that would corner the fleet management business, and the creditors that would provide loans to acquire the jeepneys, would also take their desired profits.
As such, during the coalition’s transport protest April 18, they urged fellow drivers and operators and all Filipino voters to avoid voting Mar Roxas and LP candidates.
The leaders of the transport coalition suspected that the transport leaders who expressed support for the Aquino government’s phaseout program, did so in exchange for some deals. These could include shares in the fleet management business and in the sale of new imported jeepneys.
“Collaborationist” transport leaders, they said, also position themselves to benefit from public funds allotted for drivers. As an example, a transport leader from Makati shared how those transport leaders once urged the DOTC and the government to course through them the Pantawid Pasada or government aid for jeepney drivers. “Only one transport leader opposed it in one of those “public consultations,” a Makati transport leader said. He said it was George San Mateo of Piston. He added that San Mateo instead proposed to give the aid directly to the drivers.
Now, these transport leaders who frequently “collaborate” with the government have endorsed the LP bets led by Mar Roxas.
At a garage of 1-Team, one of the fleet management systems that received the first two of promised 10 units of “modern jeepneys,” jeepney operators formerly with Pasang Masda said they saw the banners of LP bets Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo on the new jeepneys.
Asked if the transport leaders with No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition are also endorsing other presidential aspirants, Anselmo Perweg, spokesperson of NTJPC, said they are issuing a challenge to other candidates: “Don’t act like Roxas, and stand with the drivers against the jeepney phaseout program.”
Perweg said that whoever wins in the May polls will be greeted with massive transport protests if he or she would not scrap the planned phaseout.