MANILA (UPDATE) - A jeepney operators group on Sunday appealed to government to allow traditional jeepneys to return to the road to earn during the pandemic as some drivers have taken to the streets, asking for alms.
The group awaits government's announcement by Thursday or Friday, according to Zeny Maranan, president of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP).
Jeepneys are among the modes of public transport that were banned during the coronavirus lockdown period as the public were told to stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
"Sana buksan nila ang puso nila sa oras na ito," Maranan told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(We hope they will open their hearts at this time.)
"'Wag na muna nila masyado i-full force yung tinatawag nilang consolidation. Tapusin muna nila itong pandemic kasi hindi tayo nakakasiguro kung aabutin ng isang taon. Hayaan muna nila kaming tumakbo nang makabawi-bawi kami," she said.
(We hope they won't implement in full force the consolidation of jeepneys. Let us get through this pandemic first because we don't know if it will last for a year. Allow us to operate to make up for what we lost.)
Maranan said jeepney operators and drivers would allow up to 5 passengers in each side of the jeepney and 1 in front, put a plastic cover in the aisle, and provide alcohol to passengers who would now be required to pay at the terminal to minimize contact with the driver.
"'Yung sinasabi ko sa mga tsuper ko, mag-isip kayo ng paraan para hindi rin kayo magkasakit, hindi yung basta kumita na lang tayo tapos paglabas natin ng dalawang araw, mamatay din kayo d'yan," she said.
(That's what I tell my drivers: Come up with ways that you won't contract the virus. Don't just think of earning, then after 2 days of operation you will die of the disease.)
Jeepney operators are open to installing cashless payment systems if they will be allowed to operate for at least 3 years more, Maranan said.
"Sa ngayon, napakamahal po ng BEEP card na yan, tapos ang mangyayari, yun pala, tatanggalin din kami," she said.
(BEEP card is too costly and then they will just remove us from the roads.)
There are 10,000 fewer traditional jeepneys in Metro Manila at 55,000 following government's modernization plan, according to Maranan.
The Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization said it would agree to government's plan to ease out traditional jeepneys from the roads if it would buy from local producers instead of from China.
"Willing kami na unti-unting alisin ang mga traditional jeep at papalitan namin ng modern jeep na mura ang halaga: P1.3 million,” said ACTO national president Efren de Luna.
(We're willing to be removed and be replaced by modern jeeps at a low price: P1.3 million.)
“Makikinabang pa ’yung mga pagawaan natin katulad ng Sarao, etcetera. Buhayin natin ’yan. Huwag ’yung gawang China na ang halaga ay P2.5 million. Anong hiwaga ang meron kayo?”
(Our local producers would benefit, like Sarao, etcetera. Let's revive them. Don't buy from China which costs P2.5 million.)
De Luna also urged government to come up with a "win-win" solution as he warned of a massive transport protest which would include the burning of jeepneys.
"Magkaroon muna tayo ng win-win solution. Isantabi muna natin ’yan (modernization program), at diyan din naman tayo pupunta," he said.
(Let's come up with a win-win solution and put it aside since we're going there anyways.)
"Habang may pandemic pa, pakinggan muna natin ’yung sikmura ng ating mga driver kasi milyon ang mawawalan ng hanapbuhay, isasama mo pa kaming mga driver na halos kalahati o isang milyon din ’yan."
(Let's listen to our drivers during the pandemic because millions will lose jobs, including us drivers who are nearly half or a million.) --With reports from Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News