DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Updated as of 4:17 pm) — Members of the public transport group Transport of Southern Mindanao for Solidarity, Independence and Nationalism expressed fears of losing their means of livelihood when the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board implements its Jeepney Modernization Plan.
The protest caravan in Davao on Monday was part of a nationwide protest of transport groups affiliated with public transit alliance group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide in a bid to register their defiance of the modernization plan, which they claim, would disenfranchise some 500-600,000 drivers nationwide.
Raul Gatchalian, 58, said he joined the protest caravan because the LTFRB’s modernization plan would hit jeepney drivers like him the most.
“Babag mi aning jeepney phaseout. Gagmay ra gud ni amo, pila lang ni among kitaon unya papaliton mi nila ug tag isa ka milyon nga sakyanan? Asa man mi’g kwarta nga ing-ana” (We are against this jeepney phaseout. We’re only small players, and our earnings are meager. And then they expect us to purchase a vehicle worth millions? Where are we going to get that kind of money), Gatchalian said.
“Among kita sa among sakyanan, igo-igo ra gyud nga ipakaon namo sa among pamilya. Ug kuhaon na nila, mura na nilag gipatay among pamilya (What we earn from is only enough to feed our families. If they take that from us, it’s like killing our families),” Gatchalian said.
Erwin Fernandez, Transmision-Piston spokesperson clarified, however, that they are not against modernization per se, but are only looking out for small players like drivers.
“Dili kami supak sa unsa mang modernisasyon, kung gitubag lamang niini ang panginabuhian sa gagmayng sektor sama sa mga drayber. Pero kung kining modernisasyon, mutubag sa panginahanglan sa mga dagkong kapitalista nga madagkong ginansiya lamang ang ilang makuha, mubabag gayud kami. Kay kini mao ang mupatay sa sektor sa transportasyon, labi na sa mga gagmayng operator ug gagmayng drayber,” Fernandez said.
(I repeat, we are not against any form of modernization, if it ddresses the livelihood of the poor sectors, such as drivers. But if this modernization serves only the big capitalists who stand for bigger gains, then we will block it. Because this will kill the transportation sector, especially the small time operators and drivers)
In a statement, Piston claimed that the plan to replace old jeepneys with expensive electronic jeepneys/buses or those with Euro-4 engines, was in fact a “corporatization of public transportation to be dominated by foreign and local big businesses in the guise of reducing traffic and pollution.”
“The government has used the issue of the environment in pushing for the corporation of public utility vehicles. They said that electronic vehicles, or those equipped with Euro-4 engines would produce less pollution, but PUVs and PUJs only amount to 2% total of vehicles in our roads,” Piston said.
Piston also slammed the creation of Fleet Management which they claimed would be ran by three corporations: the Transportation Equipment Aggregator and Management, the Global Electric Transport, and the Fil-Invest Electric Vehicle Expansion Enterprise, Inc.
Piston said the Fleet Management would not accept small time operators with less than 10 E-Jeeps or those who do not have the minimum P7 million capital.