'Real' public transpo laborers seek Congress seats amid 'neglect'

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2021 04:28 PM

Partylists 1-UTAP and Manibela both want Congress seats in 2022. Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News
Partylists 1-UTAP and Manibela both want Congress seats in 2022. Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — At least 2 partylists declaring themselves as genuine representations of the pandemic-battered public transportation sector on Sunday formalized their bids for Congressional seats, with both saying they never truly felt represented in the legislative chamber.

Partylists 1-UTAP (Unified Transport Alliance of the Philippines) and Manibela filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) tent in Sofitel Hotel on Sunday. 

Exequiel Longares, 1-UTAP's president and its first nominee, said if elected, his priority would be to craft the "Drivers and Operators Ayuda Law" to institutionalize aid for suffering transport workers. 

"Hanggang ngayon wala po talagang tulong na natanggap itong mahihirap na driver at maliliit na operators. Kahit nga malalaking operators ngayon talagang naghihirap," he told reporters. 

The global health crisis caused by the pandemic paralyzed most of the public transport sector in the Philippines, with many jeepney and tricycle drivers forced to beg for help in the streets as government aid remains insufficient or not given at all. 

"Itong mga drivers halos magkasakit na po sa pamamasada pero kulang pa rin ang naiuuwi... Maraming isyu, pero yung tiyan muna. itong mga driver muna ang atupagin natin," Longares said. 

Longares added all their nominees belong to the transport sector. 

"Sinigurado ko po lahat ng nominees namin nasa transport, driver at operator lang ang andito para alam nila ang hinaing ng mga driver."

Meanwhile, Manibela's first nominee Mario Valbuena took a swipe at Rep. Claudine Bautista of Drivers United for Mass Progress and Equal Rights (DUMPER) partylist, which occupies a House seat and claims to represent the transportation sector. 

According to Valbuena, Bautista "never reached" out to them even as the pandemic took away their livelihoods.

"Never po naming naramdaman yung pag-represent nya... Simula po nang maupo ni hindi naman po namin nakita," Valbeuna said. 

Bautista recently drew flak over her lavish Balesin wedding where she wore a Michael Cinco creation amid the backdrop of starving PUV drivers who have yet to recover from the pandemic.

The Commission on Audit meanwhile noted that transport agencies barely touched the nearly P6 billion of Bayanihan funds supposedly for PUV drivers' aid.