Central Luzon jeepney drivers brace for strike
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—At least 150 transport leaders from the provinces of Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan and Zambales on Monday filed a petition to stop the implementation of the government’s omnibus franchising guidelines that, they said, would phase out jeepneys.
In a petition they filed in the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) office here, the transport leaders said the guidelines, supposedly to carry out a mass transport modernization scheme, would affect both drivers and commuters.
According to Emmanuel Cruz, transport sector spokesperson for Workers’ Movement for Change (WMC), only about 1 percent of jeepneys are less than 15 years old—the age of vehicles that would be phased out under the guidelines.
WMC called on jeepney drivers in Central Luzon to prepare for a transport strike should LTFRB insist on the phaseout of old jeepneys.
Cruz said a transport strike was an “effective way” to make the LTFRB and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) listen to WMC’s opposition to the phaseout plan.
Lawyer Glenn Zaragoza, LTFRB regional director, did not reply when asked for comment about the protest.
“Most of the jeepneys in the region are of the 1980-1990 models. If these are stopped from plying the routes, the shortage [of jeepneys] will worsen,” Cruz said.
In an April 5 consultation with drivers from the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera and Central Luzon regions, LTFRB officials denied it was enforcing the phaseout plan, he said.
“They used the word ‘scrappage’ for old models of jeepneys. But if you read the omnibus franchising guidelines, only big corporations can comply [with what kind of public vehicles can be on the road],” Cruz said.
Drivers, he added, might not be able to afford the P1.4-million to P1.6-million cost of a new jeepney. —TONETTE OREJAS
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