Commuters may have to brace themselves on the first day of February for a possibly monstrous traffic jam as a coalition of jeepney organizations will hold a protest caravan from Quezon City to Manila to underscore Malacanang’s inaction on the government’s plan to phase out jeepneys.
George San Mateo, a convenor of the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, on Sunday told The Manila Times that the protest caravan that it will hold from Quezon City Circle to Mendiola Bridge in Manila “will denounce President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s continued inaction and non-response to an appeal letter of the coalition opposing the phaseout program of the DOTC [Department of Transportation and Communications].”
The coalition sent the letter to Aquino on December 14 last year, stating the reasons why the group was vehemently opposing the phaseout program.
San Mateo said thePresident has not acted on the coalition’s letter, making them conclude that the President does not serve and protect the interests of ordinary people.
When he assumed the presidency in 2010, Aquino under the good governance mantra tuwid na daan (straight path) said ordinary Filipinos are his “bosses.”
The PinagkaisangSamahan ng mgaTsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (Piston) headed by San Mateo will participate in the protest caravan.
The caravan will begin rolling around 6 a.m. at Elliptical Circlein Quezon City and will proceed to Mendiola near Malacanang in Manila.
DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier told the media that the department’s plan should be called “modernization,” not “phaseout” because its purpose is to modernize the jeepney, not banish it.
The jeepney, actually a converted US military jeep, has been one of the major means of transportation in the country since the end of World War II.
Abaya said the DOTC is encouraging jeepney operators to use electric jeepney that, according to him, is more economical and environment-friendly.
San Mateo said calling the plan as “modernization” is not true at all since the purpose is to “kill” the jeepney as a means of transportation.
The idea will result in what he called “massacre” of the livelihood of 600,000 jeepney drivers and 250,000 small jeepney operators nationwide.
“The phaseout program of President Aquino is a corrupt and neo-liberal program [of the government], forcing our small jeepney operators to buy the expensive and imported e-jeepneys, which cost [around]P1 million to P1.5 million,” San Mateo said.
He added that the coalition strongly believes that the phaseout will “benefit multinational corporations, manufacturers, banks, corrupt transport officials of the Aquino administration and corrupt transport leaders who are all salivating to earn fat commissions from the purchase of these imported and expensive e-jeepneys and Euro 4 jeeps.”
San Mateo refused to reveal the names of the allegedly corrupt transport officials and transport leaders.