The House Committee on Transportation asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Thursday to open all jeepney routes in Metro Manila not only to ease the financial plight of the jeepney drivers but also to respond to the demands of the commuting public.
During a virtual meeting, the House panel, chaired by Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, gave in to the motion made by House Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro “to open all the routes for all jeepneys in all cities” of the National Capital Region (NCR).
“I move a motion, Mr. Chair, na lahat ng ruta buksan (that all routes be opened) with the proper minimum health protocol ‘dun sa mga (concerning the) jeepney drivers. Hindi ko po matiis ang nangyayari ‘dun sa ating jeepney drivers (I cannot anymore take the things that are happening to our jeepney drivers). Wala akong makitang logic dun sa sinasabi nyong (I cannot find a logic to what are you saying) hierarchy (of public transport policies), at hinuli nyo ang mga jeepney drivers (and you did not prioritize the jeepney drivers). Namatay na nga po isang leader ng jeepney operators (One of the leaders of jeepney operators died already),” Castro said.
“Buksan na ninyo (open the routes), maawa na kayo (have pity on our jeepney drivers), please lang ang lahat ng ruta (all the routes), susunod naman sila sa protocol (they will follow to the protocol),” Castro pleaded.
Castro’s motion was seconded by Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo.
“Marami po kaming mga estudyante (We have many students), ang mga tatay ay jeepney drivers (their fathers are jeepney driverrs). Sa Aug.24 po ay pasukan na (The opening of classes is set on Aug. 24). Kaya hindi pa nakakapag-enrol kasi walang katiyakan sa kanilang hanapbuhay (They have yet to enroll because the means of livelihood of their parents is still uncertain),” Castro added.
In response to Castro, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III said: “I hear the sentiment of your Honor. I am with you to address the concerns of the drivers. There is no one directional solution here.”
He explained that they are just following the Department of Transportation’s “calibrated and hierarchy of public transport policies.”
“There is no silver bullet in the very complex problem that we are confronted with, at ‘yung pagpapalabas ng ruta (the opening of routes) is one complex process. However, hindi ko naman sinasabi na (I am not saying that) we are making it a reason na mabagal (that it was slow), mayroon kasi nga tayong policy (we have a policy). Nilatag na natin ang ibang (We have rolled out the other) modes of transportation, tuloy tuloy naman po ang pagbubukas ng ibang ruta (the opening of other routes continues) for the jeepneys, as well as the UV (utility vehicle) Express,” Delgra said.
He relayed to the Sarmiento panel that they are opening “another set of routes” Friday.
“Rest assured na tuloy tuloy po ang pagpaplano (the planning continues). In fact, we are looking forward to opening up another route, another set, not just another route, another set of route. Hopefully, mailalabas po bukas (it will be opened up tomorrow),” the LTFRB Chief said.
“Titingnan din po natin kung (We will see) mayroon pong mailalabas (if we can open up), a second set of UV Express routes, aside from reassessing the bus routes not only in Metro Manila, but also in other parts of the country,” he said.
He also apprised anew the panel that they are mulling over to reopen the provincial bus routes.
“The guidance that was given to us is to increase the units, proportionately of course. Ang pinakamarami po dito ay (most of these units are) jeepneys, that is the reason why there are more jeepney units that we have now allowed…Hopefully, we have to open another set of routes tomorrow,” Delgra said.