MANILA - A transportation official is under fire after allegedly saying that driving a jeepney is not a livelihood.
Sen. Grace Poe, in a statement on Thursday, slammed Transport Assistant Secretary Mark de Leon for his remarks.
"Walang pakiramdam itong mga taong ito. Ano, gigising ka nang napakaaga para mamasada, trip-trip lang ‘yon, para lang pampalipas oras?" the statement read.
"‘Yung mga driver na nakapagtaguyod ng kanilang mga anak na nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral, bakit kaya nila ginagawa ang sakripisyong ito?"
De Leon allegedly said it was wrong to view jeepney operations as a means of generating income because those who are given jeepney franchises should already be financially capable.
"Sa paghingi ng prangkisa sa gobyerno, one of the requirements is that you should be financially capable. Mahirap na sasabihin mo na this is a source of livelihood," he said.
"Kasi nga, number 1: binigyan ka ng estado ng prangkisa to operate a public transport service. It should be treated as a public transport service instead of a livelihood business."
The Department of Transportation, meanwhile, said De Leon only stated that jeepney operations must be treated as an organized transportation business rather than an individual operator’s livelihood.
"Never did Asec. De Leon nor the DOTr demean the livelihood of PUJ operators and drivers. Public transport is a legitimate source of income, but the way we do things need to change," it said.
"Certain reports came up today stating that the DOTr is insensitive. The very fact that only this administration has the political will to modernize the public transportation system proves otherwise."