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Transport groups firm up stand vs jeepney modernization at summit

/ 12:42 PM August 27, 2018

Various transport groups, including regional jeepney operators and drivers’ associations (JODAs), held a summit on Monday to take a united stand against the government’s transportation modernization program.

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Piston president George San Mateo said the Transport Unity Summit, initiated by the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, was a step to unify and strengthen calls against the government’s program by gathering support from various transportation organizations.

“Ang problema na lang talaga natin, pa’no pagkaisahin ‘yong malawak na sektor sa hanay natin (Our problem is how to unify the wide sector of transportation),” San Mateo said during the summit.

He added that the summit’s objective was to inform drivers and operators about the dangers brought by not paying attention to issues at hand, such as the modernization program and the impact of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law on oil prices.

“Hindi ho uubra ‘yong sina-suggest na basta ‘wag tayong bumili (new jeepneys), papalpak na ‘yong programa (jeepney modernization).  Hindi ho matitigil ang programa sa hindi ho natin pagbili,” San Mateo warned other jeepney drivers.

(Their suggestion of not buying new jeepneys to thwart the modernization program won’t work. The program won’t be stopped by not buying jeepneys.)

“Kailangan aktibo nating tutulan at labanan at kumilos tayo.  ‘Pag hindi tayo kumilos, hayaan na lang natin sila, bukas wala na tayong ruta,” he added.

(We need to actively fight against it. If we aren’t active and let them be, maybe tomorrow we won’t have routes anymore.)

The summit, which San Mateo claims to have the support of at least 70 percent of JODAs in Metro Manila, featured Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate and Senator Grace Poe as resource speakers.

During the event, Zarate urged jeepney drivers to fight on, as the calls against the modernization program have supposedly forced the government to reconsider its stand.

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“Kaya kahit na sinabi na ni Pangulong Duterte na ‘kayong mahihirap, pasensya kayo, ‘pag January 1 guguyurin ko ang mga sasakyan ninyo’, halos magtatapos na ang 2018 hindi pa nangyari, dahil lumaban ang mga mamamayan, lumaban kayong mga tsuper,” Zarate said.

(Even though the President told poor drivers that he’ll take away their vehicles by January 1, it’s already more than half of 2018 and it hasn’t happened yet, so we must keep fighting.)

On the other hand, Poe said that while she does not want to totally scrap the modernization program, she would look for measures that would aid jeepney drivers, such as raising the drivers’ P80,000 financial assistance, which they could use as down payment for the new jeepneys.

“Dapat sabihin natin sa DOTr, ano ba ‘yong arrangements sa mga bangko, dapat ang interest rates mababa at available, kung ang downpayment pwedeng taasan ng konti, kung kakayanin ng gobyerno, bakit hindi?” she said.

(We need to tell DOTr what the arrangements with the banks are and that the interests rates are low and available, and if they could raise the down payment and the government can do it, why not?)

“Kailangan din natin malaman, paaano niyo ba ipinamamahagi ‘yong fuel vouchers, na parang walang nakakatanggap, o kung may nakakatanggap man, 25 percent lang,” she added.

(We also need to know how they’ll distribute the fuel voucher, which it seems no one is getting, and if some are receiving them, it’s only 25 percent.)

Some JODAs have expressed concerns over the modernization program, claiming that it was only an attempt to phase out old jeepneys in favor of corporate-backed transportation systems.

READ: No modernization, just phaseout – Piston head

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself has pushed for the program, even threatening to forcibly remove jeepneys from the streets. /cbb/je/ac

READ: Duterte to jeepney drivers: Modernize or else / Duterte to Piston: Obey jeepney modernization plan or else…

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