Jeepney phaseout will not help the real drivers of PH economy

On June 1, public transport group PISTON held a Busina Balik-Pasada action to call for more inclusive policies for the public transport drivers amid community quarantine. Photo by Mody Floranda, PISTON President.
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Labor NGO underscores PUV phaseout will not help the real drivers of PH economy   

Lifting the restrictions of quarantine after disrupting livelihood of millions takes a huge blow in the economy and will further topple down if workers from the transport sector are being pushed to their extremes, according to Labor NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER).

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Memorandum Circular 2020-017 discusses the relatively numerous requirements for the public transportation special permit for areas under the General Community Quarantine including that drivers should be part of consortiums or cooperatives, and must purchase the modernized jeepney for those who have the 2009 models and older.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) can’t even include yet the transportation sector loses in its May 22 report entitled We Recover As One as the head of technical working group focused on the economy this pandemic. It was mentioned that Enhanced Community Quarantine has had a major impact on the said sector.

Around P1.1 trillion in total loss, which comprises 5.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, was reported by NEDA since the start of the quarantine excluding the transport sector; which furthers the argument as to how much worse the economy can be.

“Today, the workers experienced a worse public transport crisis. The DOTr is taking advantage of the COVID pandemic to push its anti-poor policies, including phasing out of the jeepneys without concrete livelihood plans for the hundreds of thousands of jeepney drivers and operators,” Executive Director Rochelle Porras said.

Government’s action to push the businesses to resume its operations without mass testing also endangers the lives of the workers.

“If the government and businesses want to resume operations, they should provide safe and efficient public transportation for workers. It is unjust that the workers are made to suffer from walking for hours over long distances. The proposed jeepney modernization program of the Duterte administration will result in fare hikes for commuters and further massive displacement of jeepney drivers,” Porras added.

A jeepney driver calls for livelihood amid the community quarantine due to COVID-19. Photo by Roberto Agnes.
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