LAST June, my sister Flora Jacobe and I took a jeepney ride (Pasig-Quiapo) from Shaw Boulevard near Sheridan Street in Mandaluyong to Sta. Mesa, Manila. The driver was discourteous, recklessly driving, smoking while driving, did unsafe practices and was generally unkempt in appearance. This was the worst experience I have had riding a jeepney.
At that time, there was no LTFRB rates memo posted inside the jeepney, yet the driver collected the new rates.
The driver zigzagged in and out of his lane and did sudden stops and starts. It was a dizzying experience akin to riding a roller coaster.
At Kalentong the driver lighted his cigarette. We were entering Manila through P. Sanchez St. and usually there is no police presence there. Many jeepney drivers smoke when they reach this street. I told him about the smoking ban in public vehicles. He acted as though he did not hear me and enjoyed his nicotine treat, to the chagrin of other passengers, especially parents with children.
When we said “Para!” (stop) along V. Mapa, the driver suddenly stepped on his brake in the innermost lane of the uber busy three-lane street and told us we could go down. I asked him to please bring us to the curb where it would be safe to alight. He did not move, my sister started to alight so I followed. One of my feet was still on the step board when the jeepney started. It was a good thing I was holding the handrail tightly. Then we were forced to play patintero with the other vehicles to get to the sidewalk.
Earlier, somebody had also shouted “Para!” but the driver did not stop until he saw a passenger flagging him down. The alighting passenger complained because it was a long way to where she wanted to get off. The new passenger came in first. The leaving passenger was still on the step board of the jeepney when the driver started the jeepney, and then suddenly stopped. I thought the passenger was going to fall. The driver just smiled and muttered, “Ang kulit” (very persistent).
The driver was wearing a dirty shirt, tattered shorts and wedged slippers. And he definitely smelled like he had not taken a bath for days.
I immediately wrote the LTFRB a complaint letter. Finally yesterday, I was called to a hearing.
So I went to the LTFRB offices on East Avenue. I asked the gate guard where the hearing venue was. He simply waved his hands and said, “Doon!” (There). He was busy talking to somebody and obviously they were talking about her taxi parked nearby. Was he a fixer? So I tried to follow the direction of his hands. I asked another guard and I was told to go to the lobby. So I asked another person where the lobby was. Finally I was at the lobby and asked the guard where the hearing venue was. He said, very cheerfully, “Sandali lang po at ituturo ko sa inyo” (Wait a while and I will show you where it is). He promptly accompanied me and pointed to me the door to the venue. Good boy!
When I entered, somebody (in t-shirt) at the counter was calling out names of persons and companies whose cases were to be heard that day. There were maybe about 50-100 case folders and about 30 complainants were there. I was not called. Then, a guy in long-sleeved barong and eyeglasses came out, “All rise! Please observe silence as the hearings will now proceed” (or something to that effect). I approached the counter and told the t-shirt guy that I had not been called. He told me to wait because there was another batch that had not yet been called. I sat quietly and observed and listened to the proceedings. I was fidgeting because I was going to lecture about urban farming to a class in UP Diliman and it was getting late.
I again approached the counter and asked the t-shirt guy how long will it take and if I could first go to UP and come back later. He told me to ask the “judge” if he could already hear my case ahead of the others. The judge acquiesced and started to talk to me. First, he asked that I remove my hat. Huh?!?! I told him it was part of my “farmer get-up.” Oh, boy. The driver or the operator weren’t there so the hearing was reset to November 20. Why the long delay? The “judge” said they have many cases lined up for hearing. He also told me to bring an affidavit for next hearing. My email was not enough. Red tape. That means I have to pay a lawyer to notarize my affidavit. And he told me to send the driver a copy of my affidavit. Huh?!?!
Why only one “judge” when there is a big number of cases to be heard from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon? Why schedule so many cases per day? It took at least 15 minutes for each case to be heard, reset, resolve perhaps. Can they finish all the cases? Do the math. What happened to those whose case won’t be heard but they were summoned to attend the hearing? Those jeepney drivers and others involved in those franchise cases are deprived of a day’s earning.
This is an example of how our government works. Our government is not serving us, we are pleading with them to help us with our legitimate issues. Akala ko, ako ang boss nyo (I thought I was your boss)?
Feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.