By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo is hoping that the transportation sector agencies could be more compassionate toward drivers of old jeepneys who are badly hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Robredo said the government’s modernization program will only benefit jeepney drivers who can afford upgrading their vehicles if and when it pushes through during the public health crisis.
“Parang pinapaboran na naman natin dito iyong mga mayayaman, iyong mga mayayaman na may-ari na kapag sinabi mong modernize, kaya agad. Paano iyong mga naghikahos na hinulugan iyong kanilang mga jeep? (It seems like they only favor those who are rich, the owners who can modernize (their fleet) right away. How about those who are struggling to pay for their jeeps?),” she asked on her weekly radio show.
“Okay naman na gawin iyong modernization ngayon, pero siguruhin na wala namang maiiwan (It is okay to implement the modernization program, but they should make sure no jeepney driver is left behind),” she said.
Robredo said that while jeepney drivers and owners are not against modernization, some of them just don’t have the capacity yet to comply with the program.
“Ang hinihingi nila, gawing mas maluwag para sa kanila iyong terms, iyong terms ng pag-modernize. Tapos ngayon, kung ipipilit mo iyon, na hindi kayang mag-modernize as of this time, at hindi mo ipapakayod, eh ‘di pinaboran mo na naman iyong mga mayroon (What they are asking is make the terms flexible for the modernization. If you will insist on it, which the drivers can’t do as of this time, and you won’t allow them to work, you are favoring only those who can afford to),” she said.
“Ang kawawa naman iyong mga wala. Eh dapat sana ang tinutulungan iyong mga wala para kahit paano makahabol nang kaunti (Those who have none are pitiful. What we should do is help them so they could somehow catch up),” Robredo added.
Starting Monday, modern public utility jeepneys (PUJs) are allowed to resume operations in Metro Manila by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The agency has allowed the operations of modern jeepneys with 15 routes available to the public.
The vice president cited a study made by think-tank group Ibon Foundation, which showed the jeepney drivers have already lost P78,000 of their income, or a monthly income of P26,000 since the quarantine took effect in March.
Robredo said the government’s cash aid to the drivers was not even half of their monthly income to fend for their families.