Poll exec leads online plea for donations for bail of drivers jailed for protesting jeepney ban | Inquirer News
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Poll exec leads online plea for donations for bail of drivers jailed for protesting jeepney ban

/ 12:14 AM June 05, 2020

MANILA, Philippines—Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon is pleading for donations to help bankroll the bail for six public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers who have been arrested on Tuesday (June 2) for supposedly violating quarantine protocol to protest a continuing ban on PUJs in Metro Manila and elsewhere.

Guanzon, a lawyer, said in a tweet on Thursday (June 4) that she would like to donate money for the release of drivers belonging to the transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).

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“I want to pay for the old man’s bail. What court?” Guanzon said in her tweet. “I have assigned a lawyer to coordinate with the lawyer of Piston 6. I hope he can post bail soon. The elderly’s condition is pitiful.”

“People, even it’s just 500 pesos each, let’s give to their families,” Guanzon said. “I will post their bail. Bank account below,” her tweet read.

Guanzon received a reply from fellow lawyer Mae Diane Azores — 2019 Bar topnotcher — on how she can donate for the drivers’ bail.  Azores previously expressed intention to help the beleaguered drivers.

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The six Piston members were arrested by police for protesting in Caloocan City. The arrest came even after lockdown measures in place to prevent coronavirus transmission had been eased. The drivers faced charges for alleged violation of social distancing rules.

READ: PISTON official, 5 drivers nabbed for quarantine violations after rally vs jeepney ban 

READ: ‘Puno na lahat:’ Metro workers brave lack of public transport, rains on Day 1 of GCQ 

The jeepney drivers were calling out the government for not allowing jeepneys to operate again two months after the lockdown rendered them jobless and as commuters endured the pain brought by lack of transportation to go to work and home.

After enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed on Metro Manila because of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all work, except for those tagged as essential, had ground to a halt.

The ECQ, government lingo for lockdown, however, left people like drivers without any income for at least two months because they relied on daily earnings and cannot shift to work-from-home arrangements available to other workers.

Social aid was provided, but drivers wanted to return to fending for themselves as the cash distributed by the government was barely enough to put food on their tables for more than two months.

Despite the transition to GCQ, supposedly the looser form of ECQ, the national government stood firm on banning “traditional” jeepneys, like the ones being driven by the arrested drivers, from the road. The government reason? Seats in traditional jeepneys could not be configured to prevent coronavirus transmission.

READ: Palace: ‘Traditional’ jeepneys on roads amid GCQ still ‘out of the question’

As of now, Piston said that the six are still detained as they cannot afford bail. Donations, the group said, have reached P75,381 and more than 18,000 signatures had been gathered for a petition to release the drivers.

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Edited by TSB

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TAGS:  Mae Diane Azores, 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, bail, Caloocan City, Comelec, Commission on Elections, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, COVID-19, enhanced community quarantine, GCQ, general community quarantine, jeepney drivers, lockdown, nCoV update, Philippine news updates, Piston, PISTON 6, Police, protest
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