By NORWIN GONZALES
BAGUIO CITY — The proposed PUV modernization plan of the Duterte government has been widely denounced by jeepney drivers and operators nationwide. This has been marked by a two-day transport strike in Metro Manila and other cities.
According to Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), 90% of jeepney operations have been paralyzed during the strike. The strike may have been a success, but for drivers and operators in the Baguio-Benguet area, where 88% of jeepneys are facing phaseout, the fight is far from over.
Next year, when the phaseout plan comes into full blow, there are greater challenges ahead. But what really does the phaseout mean for Baguio-Benguet drivers?
Drivers, under the “modernization policy,” are required to purchase new vehicles worth P1million to P1.6 million each that falls under three categories – e-jeepney, Euro 4, or solar-powered. They are also required to purchase atleast 10 vehicles under the fleet management program.
With a 6% per annum interest for seven years, the price will reach around P2 million. Government committed an P80,000 subsidy for each unit.
However, if computed on a per-day basis, drivers must still pay around P800 per day.
Manolo Galut, a driver of 15 years plying the Baguio Plaza – Pacdal route is a father of four. His children had already stopped from schooling because of the measly amount of P400 per day from driving.
“We don’t have the same capacity. The rich might be able to afford it,” he said after being asked if he can afford the new e-jeepney.
“We have to pay a boundary of as much as P600, what will be left to pay diesel and bring home to our family if we are to pay the new jeepney?” he added.
He said he has to earn a minimum of P2,000 a day so that there will be left to bring home.
“I hope the President does not continue to phase out these vehicles which are still working,” he said.
Father of three, Fernando Eukan plies the same route as Manolo. He started driving in 1994 and started being the operator of the jeepney he drives shortly after. His jeepney is already 17 years old.
He said he earns around P500 a day.
“I am for modernization, but not for the phaseout. I wish we could just remodel the currently existing jeepneys,” he said.
A native of General Santos City in Mindanao, Sherwin Sucal came to Baguio City to seek a job. He found one, being a driver in the same Pacdal route.
“When it comes to these new units, it will be difficult for any operator; much more for drivers,” he said.
“A lot of poor people will be affected by this plan, especially us drivers. This is the only job we know,” he added.
All the jeepneys they are driving will be affected by the phaseout. # nordis.net