Jeepney operators share 'nightmare' about consolidation

Victoria Tulad, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2023 05:59 PM

 Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Commuters wait in line for a ride at a public utility jeepney (PUJ) terminal in PhilCoa , Quezon City on November 20, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Some operators who consolidated and created a cooperative as a requirement under the PUV Modernization Program called on the government to scrap it amid an ongoing transport strike.

In a press conference in Pasig City, operators who are also members of transport group Piston which is leading the strike said they lost their livelihood because of the consolidation.

Rommel Odevilas of the Guadalupe-FTI Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association, Inc. (GUAFTIODAI) said he and 57 other Filipino operators created a cooperative with a Chinese group in 2019.

After a while, however, the Chinese group which owned the modern jeepneys said they were not earning and refused to give operators the promised P800 per day, according to Odevilas.

Eventually, drivers were kicked out and Filipino operators were no longer allowed in their office.

Odevilas, who spent P50,000 for the consolidation and surrendered his franchise to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), regrets his decision to consolidate. 

“Talagang may phobia kami. Umiiyak kami. Hindi kami makatulog kasi masama ang loob namin. Dugo at pawis namin yan, pinaghirapan namin,” he said.

He said some of their members were forced to sell their jeeps while some drivers are now jobless.

They have already filed a case against their former partners and are awaiting the decision of the LTFRB.

Oscar Dela Peña, Secretary of the Pasig-Mandaluyong-Quiapo Operators and Drivers Alliance (PAMAQODA), said their cooperative reported not earning money since 2019 which is why members have not received any dividend since then.

Emerson Bismonte, on the other hand, claimed he did not receive any SSS and PAG-IBIG benefits, which were originally promised to drivers of modern jeeps like him. He did not last long since the money that he made was not enough.

Odevilas, Dela Peña, and Bismonte, along with other operators and drivers in the press conference, hope government will heed their cries.

They tore a copy of the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines and said no to jeepney phaseout.