“ANG mga mahihirap ang nagpapahirap sa kapwa mahirap,” was the dialogue of Regine Velasquez in her telenovela, Poor Senorita, on the Kapuso Channel. They were walking along a narrow and busy alleyway on their way home after a day’s work when there was a commotion and people started to hide or run. Later they learned that there was an “akyat-bahay” (robber) trying to escape.
Sad but true.
The poor rides the jeepney. The poor jeepney driver overcharges them. According to the LTFRB’s [Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board] Winston Ginez, the diminution of the minimum fare applies not only to the minimum but also to all fares.
Meaning, if the fare used to be P10, it will now be P9.50. The poor rejoiced momentarily, until the jeepney drivers announced that the decrease only applies to the minimum fare.
Also, the poor jeepney drivers even announce with pride that they do not honor the new minimum fare for seniors and students. It is still P6.00. If you give P5.50, they will embarrass you no end by talking about you throughout the ride and even when you have already alighted.
The arrogant jeepney drivers also put their poor jeepney passengers at risk all the time.
They drive like they are in a race and some even do drifting. They stop in the middle of the street to take in or let passengers out.
Along V. Mapa Street, Sta. Mesa, there have been a number of accidents, some even fatal, because of jeepney drivers stopping in the middle of the street. Not to mention that they multitask while driving—call out for passengers, get fares, calculate the change, give the change, scold passengers for not giving the “proper” fare, chat with other drivers, chat with a family member riding in the front seat, and many others.
Many jeepney drivers smoke while driving, which is illegal. Also, you could lose your ears with the loud music they play, which is also illegal. The poor police officer who is supposed to protect the poor from abusive drivers? He is sitting pretty at a street corner or a nearby cafeteria (mooching free food) or busy apprehending taxi drivers or private car drivers on trumped-up violations.
The other day at about 8 a.m., I was in a taxi and we were unable to turn right from Taft Avenue to Padre Faura because that part (and many parts of many other streets) had turned into an illegal terminal for jeepneys. Immediately when the red light flashed, Traffic Officer Rolando Aguila came huffing by (maybe he had not had his breakfast yet) and gave my taxi driver a ticket for obstruction. I told him he should also apprehend those jeepney drivers blocking the whole entrance to Padre Faura, and he told me to just go back to the taxi and not to disturb him.
I told him I would take a picture of him and the “parked” jeepneys. He immediately turned back and briskly motioned the jeepney drivers to drive on.
Another way the poor is making the life of their fellow poor miserable is by blocking the streets and sidewalks. As a result, there is no safe and convenient place for pedestrians (mostly poor people) to pass.
And, there are the barkers who force jeepney drivers to fork over a certain amount for helping them get passengers. Of course, I take a jeepney with or without a barker.
Who are the apprehended drug pushers and drug users? The poor!
The reason jeepney drivers and sidewalk vendors give protection money to whoever is extorting them is that they are just trying to earn a living (naghahanapbuhay lang). Yes, at the expense of other people’s safety and violation of their rights.
There are many more such incidents. And who are the usual pickpockets and petty criminals? The poor! And their usual victims? The poor.
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