In Laguna, drivers join protest vs jeepney phaseout
SAN PABLO CITY — About 100 drivers and operators of public utility jeepneys in this city in Laguna province on Monday joined a protest against the government’s transportation modernization program.
Among those who joined the two-hour protest held at the city center was Delfin Piñana, 57, who has been driving his jeepney since 1990.
Piñana, from Rizal town in Laguna, said his jeepney was still in good condition and that the government’s plan to phase out older units would mean higher costs for him.
“[I will be left with] no choice but perhaps to farm. The problem is I’m too old for that,” Piñana said.
Monday’s protest was not meant to paralyze public transport, but a way to “register” the sentiment of jeepney drivers, said Bencio Reyes of Save Our Jeepney Network, an alliance of jeepney drivers and operators in Southern Luzon.
Reyes said aside from the jeepney phaseout, drivers suffered from the stiff fines being imposed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.
“Who doesn’t want road safety? Of course, we want that for our commuters. But the penalties are just too much. Imagine a driver being fined P15,000 for a violation? Where would he get that amount?” Reyes said.
He said drivers and operators also could not afford the electronic or solar-powered jeepneys to replace their vehicles.
Reyes said most drivers in this city were issued franchises that would expire in 2020.
“We are afraid we won’t be reissued the franchise anymore. If President Duterte still won’t listen to us, we will be forced to launch a [transport] strike [in the coming months],” he said. —Reports from Kimmy Baraoidan and Maricar Cinco
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