Who will benefit from the jeepney phase-out?

22

KATRINA STUART SANTIAGO

THE jeepney strike that kicked off this week drove home the point that needed to be made about the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) proposed jeepney modernization program.

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First, that in fact jeepneys are not the main cause of our traffic crisis, because despite the fact that there were barely any jeeps on the roads, traffic was still terrible.

Second, that in fact this proposed modernization program will not only disenfranchise jeepney drivers and operators, it will also ultimately affect the commuting public. On the day of the strike, commuters were stranded no matter the number of organizations that did not join the strike, and no matter the number of transport units that the LGUs and government agencies provided.

Makes you wonder: if this shift to new jeeps happens, will there be no lull in operations? Does this mean that there is actually one huge business already making these jeeps, ready to receive its millions from government subsidies, bank loans, and jeepney operators who can afford the P7 million pesos required to get a new modern jeepney franchise?

Whose business is this, and how did it get such a great deal with the DOTr?

We’re talking 400,000 jeeps to be bought at the price of at least P1 million each.

Imagine earning that much out of one huge government deal. It boggles the mind.

Call it a phase-out
The night before Monday’s rally, after posting a Facebook status on how the jeepney phase-out stands to affect 650,000 drivers, I was told that some government official has pointed out that the use of the term “phase-out” is wrong and misleading.

Apparently, this phase-out is being spun by saying that in fact it is only going to affect jeepneys that are 15 years old and older. So, we are being told that technically, this is not a phase-out.

Except that most, if not all, jeepneys are actually 15 years old and above. Wouldn’t that mean, in fact, that this is a complete phase-out?

The DOTr insists: this is modernization, not a phase-out (Facebook page, February 6).

On the contrary: it is a modernization program that will phase out the jeepney as we know it. Including, but not limited to, the cost of fares.

After all, if one new modern jeep will cost P1 million, the new owners/operators will want to get a return on investment, yes? Imagine how high the fares will be so that they might earn a profit.

At what cost?
I believe in the basis for the jeepney modernization program. Yes, there is a need to make our jeeps safer. And sure, let’s make it more environmentally friendly while we’re at it.

But I do not believe that safer, environmentally friendly jeeps should mean requiring jeepney owners to put up at least P1 million for a new jeep.

Neither can you make me believe that in order to “modernize” the jeep as public transport, that an operator must spend P7 million to get a franchise, or that any operator should be required to have a fleet of 20 units by 2018, or 40 units by 2019 (inquirer.net, February 6).

The financial requirements of this modernization program will be difficult to fulfill for a majority of jeepney drivers and operators, if at all. And any response that says the sector will be given bank loans with low interest rates just misses the point.

What the DOTr is saying is that they will force the jeepney sector to shift to jeeps they cannot afford, by telling them to go into debt just to continue serving the commuting public.

No low interest rate will erase the fact that government is forcing the jeepney drivers and operators to incur such large debts, in the name of “compliance.”

And who’s going to earn from this shift to new jeeps? The lack of transparency makes this whole enterprise even more suspicious.

Rehabilitation not modernization
There is absolutely no reason to go through the modernization process in one fell swoop, especially when it will affect a majority of jeepney drivers and small operators, especially when it involves such huge amounts of money.

DOTr will make us believe that we – the jeepney sector and commuting public – stand to gain. But we will only gain if we see that jeeps are safer, drivers do not lose their jobs, and we do not suffer the burden of higher fares.

There has to be a kinder process, a more compassionate way of making the jeep safer and more environmentally friendly, without having to phase out all the jeeps at this point.

For example, unlike other public utility vehicles, jeeps are not created in factories, but are assembled in the good ol’ Filipino talyer (PinoyWeekly, November 2016). Is it not possible to change the jeepney as we know it by merely shifting to better, more environmentally kind parts? Is it not possible to find or create jeepney parts that will make it safer as well?

According to George San Mateo of PISTON, “Kung tutuusin, sa sinasabi nilang roadworthiness at environment concerns, puwedeng puwede ang rehabilitation imbes [na]palitan ng bago ang mga dyip. Basta may government subsidy.” (Actually, rehabilitation instead of replacement can already address the issues of roadworthiness and the environment, so long as there is government subsidy.)

Here, even government will benefit, as it will not have to put up subsidies and assistance in the billions, and instead will work towards assisting jeepney drivers and operators on becoming compliant, at lesser cost.

Without the P1-million per jeep price tag, it will also mean being able to keep the price of jeepney fares down.

Alas, the President’s men at DOTr are not thinking beyond the programs of the previous government. And if this jeepney modernization program pushes through, it will prove only one thing: that the Liberal Party’s anti-people policies are alive and kicking within Duterte’s government.

How ironic is that.

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22 Comments

  1. Discipline big time jeepney drivers!
    They are the most undisciplined drivers in the world!
    No manners, and rude!
    Have all of the drivers go to a class called “Good Manners and Right Conduct”
    If they fail the subject, then dont grant them license to operate!

  2. Father Christmas on

    ” jeepneys are not the main cause of our traffic crisis”

    While they may not be the main cause of our traffic crisis, jeepney are the main cause of traffic in the streets of Manila. In some of the routes I used to take, they are very abusive of their customers and abandon them at the slightest sign of rain.

  3. phase out dapat 15yr and above, lahat ng sasakyan, riding public mag mrt, lrt, bus or best mag bisekleta.

  4. Phase out the Jeepneys and replace it with modern Bus (like the UBE Express, airport service) and total overhaul of the whole system. No more jeepneys as public transport. This writer or anybody who opposes it…have you seen the mass transport of Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, etc. These 650,000 drivers, legit drivers hired as bus drivers to work in two shifts, dispatchers, supervisors, mechanics and general purpose/utility man. Drivers has three tiers of advancement depending upon the past performances and length of service, e. g. junior driver-senior driver–chief drivers. Run it like a professional company, not as “underground economy” as the current set-up. Of course it needs a lot of capitalization, political will and it needs the existing bus operators to consolidate their operations and maybe form 2-3 companies within Metromanila, (city operation). If they agree, government should help in facilitating for financing, loan, etc. Dispatching at designated time depending upon the demand. Divide Metromanila into zone or grid. Reissue or recreate different routes that are complementary and not concentrating mostly on Edsa. Imagine these number of Jeepneys without parking (yeah on the street), same things goes with buses. Why not have a centralized Depot (garage, maintenance). And during operational hours, have those Mall operator to allow certain sections of their parking lot as bus interchanges, depot, for example, Trinoma to Novaliches, Trinoma to MOA via Quezon Ave, Monumento to Baclaran (use the old Uniwide bldg as bus interchange) and so forth. there are many routes that can be created—just need careful and meticulous planning. This is not anti-poor, instead it bring drivers level and integrity to new heights comparable to a skilled workers like mechanic or a company drivers with 8-12 hours of driving/work.

  5. I say this Jeepney phase-out 15 years & above is yellow corruption. They were still
    with hang-over under Aquino Clan.

    !5 years phase out? Sira ba ulo ninyo? What do you think of the Philippines?
    Is this country rich like other who can afford to phase out, please dont do it prematurely base on the poor life of jeepney driver & small fly operator?

    HUH? 1M cost of new jeep excluding cost of high % interest from loan? Come’ on you are killing below standard Pinoy. Do something else first to the counrtry to make us live, solve muna niyo ang kahirapan. Bago yang pag-aalis ninyo ng ikabubuhay ng mahihirap.

  6. You wonder why the philippines is a shambles. Well here it is very simple to see. Jeepneys are essential in the movement of millions of people every single day. Most jeepney drivers struggle to earn a living wage but work long hard hours. Most will not i repeat will not be able to afford new vehicles of any sort. If you lose jeepney drivers the average filipino will be affected. Most businesses will be affected. If these politicians cant see that then they are stupid & should look for a different job. I will also tell them the main cause of traffic congestion in metro manila, its the cars, yes cars that people drive. Priority in metro manila should be to buses, jeepneys, taxis & any & every form of public transport over the private car. That is the only way to reduce traffic congestion in metro manila

  7. just phase out the jeepneys. times had change. they are old, smoke belching, unsafe, hot inside, jeepneys as mode of transport now is sign of our backwardness same as the tricycles.

  8. The only way that the government can implement their modernization program is to subsidize and give incentives to operators that buy modern jeeps to comply or meet the government standards. The government failed to understand that these operators / drivers are taxpayers themselves. If the government is hesitant to subsidize and give incentives to operators that purchase new jeepneys, the Roman Catholic Church, the CBCP should step-in ready to finance or subsidize brand new jeepneys, because they are partly to be blamed on the country’s population.

  9. Ms. Santiago, this is an excellent article. You are rightly concerned about the welfare of the jeepney drivers as well as the commuting public. It is sad to see that some of the critics to your article hardly understand the points that you are raising. You have rightly pointed out that this scheme needs more transparency. Perhaps some of your critics will profit from this “modernisation” hence their inane comments which are totally out of point.

    Please keep writing and highlighting those abuses perpetrated by government officials. And ignore the rubbish spouted out by those critics who hardly understand such articles.

    • These days the problem is trust and honesty. No matter how good the proposal is there will be doubt as hidden agenda exist.

  10. Whether we like it or not, the oligarchy will always benefit in the Philippines and it has always done so in the past and will probably continue after my death. Our economy is held hostage by these rich families and their political affiliates who are also their relatives either by blood or by law. However, jeepneys are not well maintained and the drivers are uncouth. I also do not want them to lose their jobs but this issue has been going on for decades. It is not something new. In other countries, they have buses and they are better for mass transport. It is true that it is not the jeepneys that contribute to the traffic jams. All vehicles contribute to it, but whether we like it or not, if we don’t want to phase out jeepneys, at least let the drivers maintain their jeepneys. These jeepneys just like buses and taxis and even private cars are smoke belchers.

    • I think you should try driving a jeepney for just one full shift. Well i dont think you would last one full shift. They arnt the best educated people but so what, these guys are working very very hard to povide for their families. They hardly make enough in a day to live let alone to maintain their vehicle. You will never be able to afford a house on an average gated sub division driving a jeepney & their salaries are capped by government to keep your fares down. Count your blessings you dont have to drive a jeepney as you would see what a difficult life it is.

  11. Eventually there will come a time that phasing out a traditional jeepney will be justified. If this argument has not been justified yet today why wait? Why not do it now? Do we have to risk the safety of the Filipino commuter just to save some insignificant fare amount? Hihintayin pa ba natin na may mabalitaan tayo na mga namatay o naaksidente dahil nawalan ng preno yung jeep na sinasakyan nila? Tapos kakamot-kamot lang sa ulo yung driver?

  12. Have you not been listening? If you’ve listened more thoroughly, you would have also heard that 1) the leader of the ONE union leader who joined also spoke up and was raising the points you have listed there; 1) the leaders of various OTHER transport unions came forward to several radio stations to state that their union did not participate in the strike, and further said that the union leader who joined was very misinformed about the issues he raised; and 3) the trade unions and the DOTR already met and conferred about those issues and already agreed to compromises; which include the ‘alleged’ suggestions you are giving!

    You just wanted to write an article that includes the words ‘liberal party’ and ‘anti- people policies’ and hurl another blog at people who are actually working. Bad writer! Do it again!

  13. Whether or not she uses jeeps to commute to where she needs to go is not the point. The questions she asks makes the whole enterprise very suspicious, and that’s what we should be paying attention to.

    Thank you Ms.Santiago

  14. The Great Defiant on

    I am a former Jeepney driver…
    fought my way through college to become an engineer…
    work abroad as OFW…

    now while I fully understand the flight of the Jeepney drivers…
    in fact, it has become a part of our culture…
    well Kat, Jeepneys are not efficient, not cost effective, not safe and not clean, including they are major pollutants.

    I believe they will not be here for the next fifty years long after I’m gone.
    Look Kat, make your view more global and pretend you know better than anyone else….typical of a politicians whose perspective is too localize….

  15. You’re right about not to replace the whole PUV, but just replace the engine and maybe transmission with new ones and you don’t have to spend 1 million pesos for it. New crate engines and transmission will cost 100,000.00 pesos whole set, it will go down further if its bought by fleet. It will save them money and our environment! New Diesel engines will cut the pollution made by the PUV by 75%.

  16. Capt. Phillips Sparrow on

    Tricycles and PUJs are not a safe mode of transportation. The Pinoys are too complacent when it comes to personal safety.

  17. Hi author, “DOTr will make us believe that we – the jeepney sector and commuting public – stand to gain.”
    do you even commute on a daily basis? i doubt it. if i know, the only reason you took a jeepney is to just experience it and not to live with it.