Jeepney modernization push during pandemic 'unfair' to drivers: Robredo

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2020 12:56 PM

Jeepney driver Alberto Manuel Jr. solicits help along Rizal Avenue in Manila. The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease allowed the operation of modern jeepneys, which left drivers of old jeepneys without stable source of income since the COVID-19 quarantine was imposed in Metro Manila since March 16.

MANILA — Any push for the modernization of jeepneys before they could be allowed back on the road will be "very unfair" to drivers and operators who lost their income during the 3-month coronavirus lockdown, Vice President Leni Robredo said Thursday. 

Regulators earlier allowed the resumption of modern jeepneys along with trains, buses, taxis and ride-sharing services in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ after stricter lockdowns grounded public transport in March. 

"I am not against modernization, pero sa akin lang, to push that at this time and in this manner is very unfair to the jeepney drivers and operators na hindi pa kayang mag-modernize," Robredo told ANC. 

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"Hindi naman sila totally against modernization. Ang hinihingi lang nila luwagan iyong terms para kayanin naman nila... Wala na nga silang kita for 3 months tas gagawin mo pa 'tong paraan para i-ease out iyong mga hindi nakapag-modernize... Dinodoble pa iyong tama sa drivers," she said. 

(They are not totally against modernization. All they're asking is to ease the terms so they could do it. They have not earned for 3 months and this would be used as a way to ease out those who were not able to modernize. The pandemic hit on drivers is being doubled.) 

UV Express units and traditional jeepneys will resume operations in Metro Manila next week, the head of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said Wednesday. There was no immediate information on when traditional jeepneys could return in provinces. 

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Instead of the boundary system, jeepney drivers could be hired on "service contracting" basis that will give them a fixed income. This will discourage drivers from violating a 50-percent passenger cap on public transport, said Robredo. 

Social distancing protocols could have also lengthened the passenger lines in trains, she said. 

"It doesn't make sense na ibinalik na natin iyong negosyo, pero walang public transportation na maayos... Hindi makatarungan iyong ginagawa ngayon," she said. 

(It doesn't make sense that businesses were allowed to return, but there is no efficient public transportation. What's being done now is unfair.) 

ANC, June 25, 2020