Photo by Kodao
January 17, 2024
KARAPATAN stands in solidarity with the thousands of jeepney drivers and operators in their struggle against the Marcos Jr. regime’s campaign to phase out jeepneys as a form of cheap mass transport.
The scheme, which masquerades as a transport modernization program, will demolish the livelihoods of up to 25,000 jeepney operators and 60,000 jeepney drivers. With only 26% of jeepney units in the National Capital Region (NCR) filing for consolidation in time for the December 31, 2023 deadline, a serious transport crisis looms as the vast majority of jeepney routes in the NCR will be vacated, with no viable alternatives in sight.
The jeepney phaseout is an anti-poor scheme that will spell hell for both the jeepney drivers and operators as well as their families, and the vast majority of the commuting public.
Jeepney drivers and operators have objected to the exorbitant price of the imported “modern jeepneys” — at a cost of PhP1.6 million, it is beyond reach of the average operator, even with cooperativization. The cost alone is designed to exclude the majority of jeepney drivers and operators.
What is less apparent but more insidious is how the jeepney phaseout scheme dovetails with current moves to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Among the sectors to be affected by opening public utilities to foreign ownership is the transportation sector, which is in danger of being controlled 100% by foreign entities. Even before the “economic cha-cha” is actualized, the Marcos Jr. regime is already laying the groundwork for the complete liberalization of the public transport sector, starting with the phaseout of the jeepneys.
With the Marcos Jr. regime’s contempt for the poor, it is turning a blind eye to the crisis that the jeepney phaseout will engender, both for the drivers and operators who will be dislocated economically and the riding public who will be deprived of this form of cheap mass transport and forced to shell out a bigger chunk of their incomes for the more expensive alternative forms of transport. All the regime cares about are the profits and kickbacks it will derive from the massive importation of vehicles to replace the phased out jeepneys.
KARAPATAN supports to the fullest the struggle of jeepney drivers and operators for their economic rights and the riding public’s right to accessible mass transport.#