Protest march launched vs jeep­ney phase­out

Tempo - - Front Page - By CHITO A. CHAVEZ

DRIV­ERS stand atop their jeep­neys in Men­di­ola, Manila dur­ing yes­ter­day’s trans­port strike against the govern­ment’s jeep­ney phase­out pro­gram. The strike forced the sus­pen­sion of classes in the area.

Thou­sands of trans­port group mem­bers mounted yes­ter­day a protest car­a­van against the pro­posed jeep­ney phase­out as part of the govern­ment’s plan to in­sti­tute its jeep­ney mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram.

Mem­bers of the No-to-Jeep­ney Phase­out Coali­tion gathered early on El­lip­ti­cal Road in Que­zon City as they re­jected the pro­gram, cit­ing that mil­lions of jeep­ney driv­ers and op­er­a­tors would be un­em­ployed once the plan is en­forced.

Among those who joined the coali­tion are mem­bers of the Pi­nagkaisa­hang Sama­han ng mga Tsu­per at Op­er­a­tor Na­tion­wide (PIS­TON).

The protest­ing driv­ers marched to­wards Men­di­ola Bridge near Mala­cañang where they planned to air their griev­ances to Pres­i­dent Duterte.

The mem­bers of the group wanted to dis­cuss the planned pub­lic util­ity ve­hi­cle mod­ern­iza­tion project of the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTr), specif­i­cally the re­place­ment of jeep­neys with elec­tric models.

“No to Jeep­ney Phase­out Coali­tion’’ con­venor Ge­orge San Ma­teo stressed that the plan would def­i­nitely put the fi­nan­cial bur­den on the lowly driv­ers who have no re­sources to com­ply with the pro­gram.

Roughly about 600,000 driv­ers and 300,000 jeep­ney op­er­a­tors are ex­pected to lose their jobs as a re­sult of the mod­ern­iza­tion plan.

Un­der the plan, old jeep­neys and other pub­lic util­ity ve­hi­cles will be phased out.

Ear­lier, DOTr Sec­re­tary Arthur Tu­gade said that many of the jeep­neys are no longer road-wor­thy and en­vi­ron­ment-friendly.

With the mod­ern­iza­tion plan, routes and a travel time per route will be set and driv­ers will un­dergo train­ing.

In­stead of the planned phase-out, driv­ers urged Pres­i­dent Duterte to just re­ha­bil­i­tate their ve­hi­cles.

Mon­day’s trans­port car­a­van caused the sus­pen­sion of classes in Malo­los and San Jose Del Monte in Bu­la­can and in­con­ve­nience to com­muters in many ar­eas.

The trans­port groups vowed to con­duct an­other mas­sive rally when the Pres­i­dent de­liv­ers his State of the Na­tion Ad­dress (SONA) on July 24 if their call re­mains un­heeded.

(Ali Vi­coy)

(Mark Bal­mores)

JEEP­NEY driv­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in a protest car­a­van mock a 16-seater modern jeep­ney as it passes along Elip­ti­cal Road in Que­zon City. The pro­test­ers op­pose the govern­ment’s plan to phase out all 15-year-old jeep­ney units. The strike was held yes­ter­day in Metro Manila and sev­eral prov­inces.

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