DOTr not anti-poor, anti-jeepney driver — exec
MANILA, Philippines — An official of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has denied allegations that the department’s policies are anti-poor or anti-jeepney drivers, saying it is only looking out for what is best for many.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran clarified that the DOTr just wanted to prevent old and worn out traditional jeepneys from coming back into the streets.
Government has yet to allow conventional jeepneys to operate, saying there is a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission due to the close seating arrangements.
“Ang ipinaglalaban natin dito, kung ano ang tama para sa nakararami. Sinasabi nila, anti-poor kami, wala kaming puso, wala kaming awa. For the record, ginagawa lang namin ang tama,” Libiran said in the post.
(What we are fighting for is what is best for the majority. They say, we’re anti-poor, that we have no heart and merciless. For the record, we’re just doing what is right.)
“Ang sinasabi nilang solusyon sa problema ay ang pagbabalik ng mga luma at karag-karag na jeepney sa kalsada. Hindi mo maitatama ng isang mali ang isa pang mali,” she added.
(According to them, the solution is to bring back the old and worn out jeepneys on the streets. You cannot correct one mistake by making another mistake.)
Libiran pointed out that allowing traditional jeepneys to ply the streets once again might be deadly, because of factors like pollution and accidents related to worn out automobile parts.
“Ang pag-operate ng mga luma at karag-karag na jeepneys ay nakamamatay. Bakit? Una, dahil sa makapal na usok na ibinubuga nila. Scientific studies show that air pollution kills. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), more than 80% of air pollution in Metro Manila comes from unabated emissions of motor vehicles in the metropolis,” she explained.
(Operating old and worn out jeepneys are deadly. Why? Because first, they emit deadly thick smoke. Scientific studies show that air pollution kills. According to the DENR, more than 80% of air pollution in Metro Manila comes from unabated emissions of motor vehicles in the metropolis.)
“Sa panahon ngayon, dapat mapalakas ang immune system ng mga tao. Ang air pollution ay nakakapagpahina ng immune system,” she added.
(During these times, people should develop a strong immune system. But air pollution weakens one’s immune system.)
Environmental group Clean Air Philippines Movement, Inc. (CAPMI), earlier voiced its opposition to moves to allow conventional or traditional jeepneys to resume operations following a three-month lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In contrast, Vice President Leni Robredo earlier expressed hopes that the COVID-19 pandemic would not be used to justify the phasing out of old jeepneys — especially after think tank Ibon Foundation said drivers have already lost P78,000 worth of income from the lockdown.
There were rumblings among jeepney drivers that they may not return to the streets, not temporarily but permanently, as the government supposedly favors modern jeepneys.
After modern jeepneys were allowed to roam Metro Manila streets again, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chair Martin Delgra said that jeepneys and UV Express vehicles are not out of their timetable, and that they may return within the month.
But on Thursday, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that UV Express vans are more likely to return compared to jeepneys, due to the seating position issue.
This comes even as Ibon claimed that jeepneys are safer because air is allowed to circulate, compared to modern jeepneys and buses using air-conditioning systems.
Libiran called on the public to refrain from being influenced by leftist groups — who have supported the return of traditional jeepneys — as the system they propose is not anti-poor.
“Anti-poor ba kung ginugusto ng pamahalaan na ang mga driver, maging swelduhan, at may fixed na oras lamang ng pagmamaneho upang mapangalagaan ang kanilang kalusugan at mabigyan sila ng mas mahabang oras para sa kanilang pamilya? Gusto natin, may benepisyo sila gaya ng SSS at PhilHealth,” she said.
(Can you call the government anti-poor if it wants drivers to be paid regularly, and to have fixed working hours to drive to ensure their health and safety, and to give them more time for their family? What we want is that they have insurance benefits from SSS and PhilHealth.)
“‘Wag nilang i-spin ang kwento. ‘Wag sanang hayaan ng publiko na maimpluwensyahan ng leftist groups ang programa,” she added.
(They should stop spinning the stories. We hope the public do not get carried away with the leftist groups’ vision of the program.)
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