#NoToJeepneyPhaseout: Transport strikes may be inconvenient, but they’re necessary


Modernizing the jeepneys that ply our roads isn’t as simple as it seems.

With drivers going on transport strike, commuters are having a hard time going to school and work for the week, but as some internet netizens have pointed out, they will stand in support.

The jeepney walkout hasn’t been received well by the government, with Vice President Sara Duterte calling it “communist-inspired” and a “painful interference.” But this plea from our jeepney drivers is one that should be heard and not red-tagged.

Why the transport strike?

As Reycel Hyacenth Nacario Bendaña, an organizer from the transport coalition Move As One, said, drivers (and groups) aren’t against the modernization of jeepneys.

“Hindi po kami tutol sa modernisasyon. Ngunit nananawagan po kami ng makatarungang plano na hindi kami maiwan,” the daughter of a jeepney driver explained in a Twitter thread.

The current Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), implemented by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), gives drivers with traditional jeepneys that are at least 15 years old time to transition to newer units until the end of December.

Early in February, the Philippine Star reported that only 60% have complied with the PUVMP guidelines. The other 40% of drivers continue to use traditional jeepneys as it’s costly to acquire more modern vehicles.

A netizen on Facebook likened the situation to having your old work laptop replaced by a new one—to make others understand the jeepney phaseout.

“Nagbigay ng memo ang office niyo na papalitan na lahat ng PC niyo ng MacBook. Natuwa kasi, wow, MacBook. Mas mabilis. Mas maganda,” they wrote. “Kaso nalaman mo na kayo pala magbabayad. 75,000 ang isa noon, pero huhulugan mo monthly… Eh paano 18K lang sweldo mo?”

“Nakiusap ka, sinabi mo di mo kaya magbayad ng ganoon… Kaso sabi ng company required… Either pumayag ka mahulog ng bagong mamahalin na laptop or tatanggalin ka.”

Transport workers also have until December to be part of an existing consolidated entity, which would be another additional cost for them.

On the first day of the strike on March 6, transport groups are calling for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to junk the phaseout. However, he maintained that this is a necessary evil.

“In my opinion, the modernization program really needs to be done. But it seems the implementation of the program is not good,” he said on March 1. “I think we can talk to transport groups and tell them that we will change the implementation so that they will not be burdened that much.”

“I’m hoping that with the initiatives we’re thinking of, we can convince them to not go on a strike because many will suffer,” Marcos said.

‘Sa laban ng tsuper, kasama ang komyuter’

On the morning of March 6, #NoToJeepneyPhaseout began trending on Twitter with over 77.8k tweets as of writing. Internet users expressed their support for the strike, even if it meant a harder commute in the meantime. They also made it clear that this move doesn’t only affect drivers, but commuters, too.

Instead of further listening to the transport workers’ appeals, the Department of Transportation (DoTR) seeks to punish those who are speaking up for their livelihood. While the agency did extend the phaseout deadline, it warned drivers going on strike that they would face administrative and criminal sanctions.

As netizens raised, the public shouldn’t get mad at jeepney drivers for walking out. As much as they want to follow the government’s modernization plans, some drivers cannot afford this.

In an interview with Inquirer, one driver said that he makes P2,250 to P2,500 per day. After meals and fuel costs, he’s only left with about P250. Considering the rising cost of daily expenses and fuel price hikes, would a transport worker be able to make enough to pay for these, the new modern vehicle, and cooperative fees?

For commuters, it may be an inconvenience for now to get around, but drivers need the support. Although they are for modernization, the current program isn’t the just transition they are hoping for.

“Just transition also means having a plan for workers who will be displaced, lalo na yung mga matatanda,” Bendaña wrote. “What they want is social security. Madami sa kanila, nakaasa sa boundary… Pampagamot araw-araw once hindi na nilang kayang magmaneho.”

banner by: @justdrawrin

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