Jeepney operators slam plan to phase out rickety units
HUNDREDS of jeepney drivers will not be plying their routes in Metro Manila on Monday to protest a plan of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to phase out rickety jeepneys.
The transport strike to be mounted by the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) is expected to strand thousands of commuters, particularly office workers and students.
Efren de Luna, national president of the big transport group, said they decided to hold a transport holiday because they fear that the plan to banish jeepneys that are at least 15 years old will deprive them of their livelihood. The government plans to phase out dilapidated jeepneys next year.
De Luna said the LTFRB should have held a dialogue with jeepney drivers and operators to explain the questioned policy.
“Ano ba ang batayan nila? Sa edad lang ba? Paano yung mga 15 taon na pero maayos pa ang body at maganda pa ang takbo ng makina [What is their basis? Is it just the age? How about those jeepneys that are 15 years old but are still running efficiently]?” he asked.
“Ano ang standard na dapat unahin alisin? Ano talaga ang programa ng gobyerno sa atin? Tuluyan ba tayong sabay-sabayang aalisan ng karapatan para mabuhay [What is their standard? Who should be phased out first? What is really the government’s plan for us? Does it plan to deprive us of our means to make a living]?” de Luna said.
The plan to phase out jeepneys, according to him, would leave thousands of jeepney drivers without jobs.
“This is alarming. Our job is our only source of income, from which we get money to feed our families, send our children to school,” de Luna said in a statement.
The group called for the resignation of LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez Jr. and Land Transportation Office Assistant Secretary Alfonso Tan Jr., the alleged brains of the questioned policy.
De Luna deplored the failure of the LTFRB and LTO to lay down a clear program for jeepney drivers who will be affected by the looming phaseout of old jeepneys.
“Lahat ng ginagawa ay pagyurak ng ating mga mahal sa buhay at karapatan upang mabuhay [They have ridden roughshod over our loved ones and our right to a livelihood],” the transport leader said.
De Luna clarified thathis group is not against the government’s modernization program but it should inform jeepney drivers of the criteria or requirements that it will follow in the implementation of the plan to phase out old jeepneys.
“Does the government plan to replace us with Grab and Uber? We should be informed if the LTFRB plans to start with jeepneys acquired in 2000 whose license plates end in 1, 2, 3,” he said.
De Luna’s group earlier pushed for suspension of accreditation of mobile application-based Uber and GrabCar, saying these not only worsen traffic gridlocks but threaten the livelihood of jeepney and taxi drivers.
Members of ACTO last week held a rally in front of the LTFRB office in Quezon City to protest the “privilege” granted to Uber and Grabcar owners who can get accreditation without difficulty.
De Luna said the easy accreditation process of app-based transportation network companies violates the rights of legitimate operators of public utility vehicles who own franchises.