By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY— Leaders of different jeepney drivers and operators groups in Baguio City urged all drivers and commuters to join them in protesting the government’s public utility modernization program during their September 26 press conference.
Josefino Bautista, of the Victory-PNR-Circle-Hillside Operators and Drivers Association, announced that their group would join the nationwide protest action on September 30.
“To our dear commuters, forgive us, but we will not be driving for you on September 30, we will instead join a march-rally to reiterate our demands,” he said.
“Please understand that we are not doing this just for our sake but you (commuters) as well,” Bautista added.
According to him, should the modernization program push through, expensive coasters will replace their jeepneys. Acquisition of the costly PUV model will also result in fare increases.
David Aragon of Tomay-Green Fields Inc. urged all drivers, operators, and commuters to join the protest action on September 30.
“To my fellow drivers and our operators, we should not be afraid of expressing our opposition to a government program that is detrimental to our source of livelihood, this is our right,” Aragon said.
Aragon appealed to commuters to support them in their struggle to keep their only source of livelihood.
Aragon said that in his group, drivers earn a gross income of 9,000 to 12,000 a month. He said that if their expenses for food, gasoline, and repairs are removed, their net income is already too minimal.
“How can we afford to buy a vehicle worth P2.6M let alone to buy a fleet,” Aragon said.
Aragon explained that the P200,000 assistance the government will give is not enough to buy one modern vehicle moreover buy ten vehicles are required in the Modernization Act.
Carlito Wayas of Piston Metro Baguio reiterated that instead of forcing drivers and operators to buy expensive vehicles that are not built for the existing road conditions in the country, what is doable is to rehabilitate existing jeepney units to address smoke-belching among others.
Wayas stressed that the modernization program is designed to benefit big businesses instead of uplifting the condition of small drivers and operators.
According to Department Order No. 2017-011 all jeepneys that “are not modernized” will not be allowed to run starting July 21, 2020. # nordis.net