Coalition vs jeepney phaseout warns of bigger rallies ahead
The nationwide group No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition has said that the public should expect massive protests this month against the government’s plan to replace the traditional jeepney with a more modern electronic version starting off with a caravan today, April 4, from Quezon City to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) office in Mandaluyong City.
Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila, on Saturday, coalition spokesperson Anselmo Perweg said that around 1,000 jeepney drivers and operators were expected to join the caravan. They will start gathering at 6 a.m. in front of the National Housing Authority on Elliptical Road before heading to the DOTC between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., he added.
Perweg advised motorists taking East Avenue as well as those passing through the Edsa-Santolan area to brace for possible heavy traffic due to the caravan.
George San Mateo, one of the coalition’s lead convenors, said they were holding the caravan to put pressure on the DOTC to rescind its Public Utility Jeepney modernization program because it was not in the best interest of drivers and operators.
“[The] DOTC’s timeline states that this year [will] be the ‘voluntary phaseout’ [period], then 2017 will be the grace period, followed by the mandatory phaseout in 2018. But what we’re saying is we don’t need [the phaseout] at all,” said San Mateo, who is also national president of the transport group Piston (Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide).
“Aside from the high cost of these e-jeepneys, what we are strongly protesting is the fleet management which operators of these vehicles will be under,” said San Mateo. He claimed that under this system, small operators would have no control over their e-jeepneys and drivers.
“We are not against modernization as a matter of principle. But the government should ‘modernize’ based on the country’s actual conditions,” said San Mateo. “One thing they could do is create an industry for local engine manufacturers which would help reduce expenses of jeepney assemblers. The current problem is that the engines we use for our jeepneys are all imported surplus which are more expensive,” he added.
The coalition said the group was preparing a follow-up protest on April 18 but was still working out the details.
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