Some jeepney drivers staged a rally in Sta. Mesa, Manila on Tuesday morning to call on the government to allow them back on the streets amid the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
The jeepney drivers who participated in the protest used to ply the Cubao-Divisoria route, that is one among many routes where jeepneys are still not allowed by the government to operate.
Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) said thousands of jeepney drivers and operators were displaced due to the government’s regulations amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Jeepney drivers are arguably the hardest hit in the public transportation industry amid the pandemic because they were the last to be allowed back on the road when the government eased quarantine restrictions.
Even when they were finally permitted to resume operations, limitations on the number of vehicles allowed were still imposed.
Piston claimed that this is the government’s way to fast-track the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) that aims to phase out jeepneys that are at least 15 years old and replace them with modern and more environment-friendly jeepneys.
However, several national government officials disputed this claim and said it is just nearing the end of the program’s three-year transition period before its full-blown implementation in 2021.