Jeepney drivers urge gov't to allow them to ply routes as GCQ begins in M. Manila

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2020 08:14 PM

A jeepney driver joins a protest and noise barrage in Quezon City urging the government to allow operations of public utility jeepneys in Metro Manila on Monday, as the region shifted to general community quarantine. Operations of public utility jeepneys and buses remain suspended as the government studies effective transport safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A group of jeepney drivers in Tondo, Manila have resorted to begging to make ends meet for their families, as government continues to bar public utility jeepneys from plying their routes even with the shift to general community quarantine (GCQ) Monday in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

“Sana po, payagan na kaming makapagbyahe kasi po, wala po kaming mapagkukunan. Yun pong mga adyuda, minsan di po kami nakakakuha. Hindi po sapat - minsan 2 kilo, 3 kilo. Di po kakayanin isang pamilya po ganun sa araw-araw,” said Jose Soretes. 

His group is urging government to allow them to operate, even with less passengers and physical distancing measures.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) earlier said some 435,619 public utility vehicle drivers in Luzon will receive financial assistance amounting to P5,000 to P8,000 each from government.

But PUJ driver Ando Culayo, who lives in Quezon City, has not received any financial aid despite reportedly applying with the LTFRB and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). 

“Simula po nung mag-lockdown, wala po kaming natanggap na ayuda. Iniintay po namin yung ayudang manggagaling ng LTFRB. Lahat po lista-lista, wala po kaming natanggap, kaya po hirap na hirap po kami sa buhay.”

Culayo said he received relief goods, consisting of 7 kilos rice and 7 cans of sardines, from the barangay only once. 

Culayo’s four children all depend on him.

His jeepney is now parked with other jeepneys in Tandang Sora. 

Edison Gado’s jeepney is parked at a gasoline station nearby. 

He practically lives in his jeepney these days.

“Kailangan namim magbyahe na, kasi napakahirap ng buhay na nakatambay dito. Napakahirap po ang walang byahe. Kailangan natin talaga magkaroon ng byahe. Kung pupwede lang, kaming mga drayber, magkaroon din kami ng kita kahit papaano.”

A small group of jeepney drivers in PHILCOA, Quezon City also staged a protest.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases called on the public to be more patient as restrictions are being eased. 

Interior and local government chief Eduardo Año stressed the calculated approach is for the good of all.

“Phasing by phasing tayo. Pasensya lang. Mahirap naman kasi kung bibiglain at babalik na naman tayo sa ECQ na naman. Mas lalo tayong di makakausad. Konting pakiusap at pag-uunawa sa ating publiko, at malalampasan na natin ito.”

The Philippines has logged 18,638 coronavirus infections, as of Monday, including 3,979 recoveries and 960 deaths.

Metro Manila was first placed under community quarantine on March 15.