Current jeepney ban means P78,000 income loss to drivers, says Ibon Foundation
MANILA, Philippines – The continuous ban on some public transportation modes despite the easing of quarantine restrictions has taken a toll on jeepney drivers, as they have lost an estimated P78,000 worth of possible earnings for the last three months.
Ibon Foundation said in a report released Friday that these projections were based on a jeepney driver’s expected income since Luzon and Metro Manila were placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
According to the group, the government’s insistence against allowing jeepneys to operate again reeks of insensitivity — especially as most of the jeepney drivers’ families are drenched in poverty.
“Quarantine measures have since eased to general community quarantine (GCQ) in many areas and public transport has resumed in phases. The first phase started on June 1 and the second is due to begin on June 22. Jeepneys, however, will still remain prohibited,” Ibon said.
“The government has been insensitive and stingy assistance has pushed jeepney drivers and their families into poverty […] Their troubles risk becoming permanent with the government exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to keep small drivers and operators off the road to fast-track its jeepney phaseout program,” they added.
Ibon says that an average jeepney driver using the MCU-Rotonda via Taft route — that is, from the Manila Central University in EDSA-Caloocan to Pasay City — earns P1,000 if he or she does a 12-hour shift.
As drivers could have worked six days a week for the three-month quarantine periods, they could have earned P78,000 or P26,000 per month.
When Metro Manila transitioned into the GCQ to jumpstart the economy, workers were faced with a myriad of problems concerning transportation, as train systems have limited the number of passengers per car. Then, buses under the government’s program were limited, leaving some commuters stranded.
The ban on jeepneys also forced some drivers to protest the decision, which ultimately led to their arrest. Six jeepney drivers from transport group Piston were arrested and detained in Caloocan as their protest allegedly violated the quarantine protocols.
But after they were freed, coronavirus tests results released on Thursday showed that two of the six drivers had been infected by the disease, which they believed were due to unsanitary conditions inside the detention facilities.
The national government has provided subsidies for jeepney, taxi drivers, and transport network vehicle service drivers through the social amelioration program, but the second tranche has not been distributed fully yet.
But for Ibon, even the fist tranche could not suffice for jeepney drivers in dire need of income.
“Government assistance has been far from enough to make up for these lost incomes. The social welfare department reports only 36,200 jeepney drivers getting cash aid in the past three months,” the foundation noted.
“Even then, some jeepney drivers only received one tranche of the Php5,000-8,000 of social amelioration and it remains unclear if they will even get the second tranche,” the group added.
Ibon believes that the government should help these drivers instead of putting them into positions where they suffer.
“Instead of putting corporate interests first and pushing its phaseout program, the government should give immediate cash assistance to drivers and their families who have suffered three months of lost incomes,” Ibon said.
“It should also support drivers and operators in upgrading or replacing their units to meet safety, health and environmental standards,” they added.
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