‘We’ll lose our livelihood’: Small-time jeepney operators lament phase-out
For two small-time driver-operators, the fight against the government’s jeepney modernization program goes beyond the streets and into the comforts of their homes and families.
Samson Batulan recalled how his grade two child cried the night before he attended the Monday’s protest action of jeepney drivers and operators in Aurora, Cubao Quezon City.
“Yung anak ko nga mag-iiyak na sinabi na kagabi maphase out na ang jeep, paano na dada hindi na ako makahingi ng limang piso sayo kung wala na tayong jeep,” Batulan told INQUIRER.net.
(My kid was crying when I told him last night that the jeeps will be phased out and told me, what will happen now? I won’t be able to ask for 5 pesos when we don’t have a jeep anymore.)
The measly P5 his child usually asks from him is just the tip of the iceberg in the problem that they would face should the Department of Transportation’s jeepney modernization program ensue.
For Nelvin James, his jeepney was his family’s only source of livelihood.
“Diyan lang namin nakukuha pambayad ng tuition, pang-araw araw at pangkain,” James told INQUIRER.net.
(It’s our only source for paying the tuition, daily expenses, and food.)
“Ayaw namin i-phase out yung jeep namin, mawawalan kami trabaho. Pinaglaban namin, ibasura ‘yung modernization,” he added.
(We don’t want our jeeps to be phased out, we will lose our livelihood. We are fighting for the junking of the modernization.)
Both Batulan and James said that they have not even finished paying their debts upon acquiring their jeepneys.
“Inutang pa namin ‘yun. Hindi pa tapos (bayaran). Hindi pa tapos ang utang namin tapos papalitan pa ngayon. Kalbo na ko, hindi pa ko nakakabayad!” Batulan said.
(The jeeps are still being paid off. We haven’t paid off our debts and now they want to change the jeepneys. I’m already balding and I still haven’t paid it off.)
James said they cannot pay for the millions worth of new and modernized jeepneys.
“Aalisin yung jeep, papalitan ng bagong disenyo. Yung jeep namin ipe-phase out yun. Ang ipapalit P1.6 million. Saan kami kukuha nun? Hindi namin kaya yun yung P800 a day. Papaano kung magkasakit ka, hindi naman pwedeng ipalabas ng iba,” he said.
(They’ll get rid of the jeep and have new designs. Our jeeps will be phased out. The new ones will cost P1.6 million. Where will we get that amount of money? We can’t afford that with our income of P800 a day. What if we fall sick, we can’t have someone else do it.)
The two, along with the over 600,000 public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers and 300,000 small operators, demanded that the government rethink their plan to include their pleas.
Batulan said they are willing to rehabilitate their jeepney units to assure the safety of passengers.
“Kung gusto nila pagandahin, pagandahin nalang namin para hindi maggastos ng milyun milyon. Magaganda pa yung jeep namin kaya lang gusto nila modernisasyon eh paano naman kami, lubog na kami sa utang,” he said.
(If they want to improve it, we’ll improve it ourselves so that we don’t spend millions. Our jeeps are still good, but they want to modernize it; so what about us who are still in debt?)
Jeepney drivers and operators led by Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) gathered in various areas to protest the said modernization program.
Piston Chair George San Mateo said they have paralyzed 90 percent of transport routes nationwide. /je
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