BY AARON MACARAEG
MANILA — Jeepney drivers and operators take the streets of major roads in Metro Manila, not to continue their operations but to protest the seemingly lack of intent from the government to let them resume or at least provide aid.
The national government on Monday, June 1, has implemented the transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) allowing virtually everyone to go out without the need to present quarantine or travel passes. For many, this allowed them to go back to work and compensate the lack of income for employees that have been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, but not for jeepney drivers and operators.
Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) mobilized in key transport areas in Metro Manila for their “Busina para sa Balik-Pasada,” against the Memo Circular 2020-017 of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)–allowing only modernized jeepneys to operate in GCQ areas nationwide and for public utility vehicles (PUVs) to apply for special permit to operate.
For many jeepney operators and drivers and the workers returning to work, this is just not fair.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Chairperson Elmer Labog supported the transport drivers’ call in resuming their operations, saying that enduring three months of hunger without enough aid from the government was enough.
Labog also said that jeepney operations are most vital for the workers whom the economy rely onto for a “jumpstart.”
In their more-than-1,500-signed petition in Change.org, Piston pointed three salient points as to how the LTFRB MC 2020-017 become problematic in solving in imposing guidelines for public transport in these “new normal” times in the country.
The transport movement argued that the old jeepneys must not be sidelined when there is an obvious increase in demand due to the reduced passengers of other PUVs for physical distancing.
They added that there’s no need for special permit since the operators already have valid franchise from the agency itself to operate.
They also pointed out the inconvenience to draw another route for jeepneys without the LTFRB consulting the rivers, operators, passengers, and the local government.
Piston maintained that the “government needs to provide subsidies to compensate for the significant reduction in drivers’ revenue as only half of the PUVs can be taxed.”