public transportation

Jeepney drivers fight Marcos’ ‘unjust’ modernization push as deadline nears

Ralf Rivas

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Jeepney drivers fight Marcos’ ‘unjust’ modernization push as deadline nears

Jeepneys ply along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on December 12, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

'Wala po tayong problema sa jeepney modernization, pero dapat suportahan ng gubyerno ang mga driver,' says PISTON national president Mody Floranda

MANILA, Philippines– Jeepney drivers kicked off their two-day strike on Thursday, December 14, as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. set a hard deadline for public utility vehicle (PUV) operators to modernize their fleet.

The Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) insisted that they do not oppose giving the iconic jeepney its much needed upgrades, especially as old models have hazardous emissions, but the program will be too costly for drivers and operators.

Wala po tayong problema sa jeepney modernization, pero dapat suportahan ng gubyerno ang mga driver (We have no problem with jeepney modernization, but government needs to support the drivers),” PISTON national president Mody Floranda said in a rally in Quezon City.

Various groups have called the scheme “anti-poor” and “unjust.”

Modern jeepneys cost between P1.3 million to P3 million. Cooperatives take out a loan to pay for these units, and some of them reported that they are struggling to repay these loans.

The government is offering to subsidize the cost of each modern jeepney: previously P160,000, but it can go up to P360,000.

Still, P360,000 is just 28% of the cost of a modern jeepney costing P1.3 million. The P360,000-subsidy per modern jeepney will require a total subsidy of P64.2 billion.

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Floranda appealed to commuters for understanding, as the strike caused a shortage of active PUVs. 

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and Department of Transportation insisted that some 70% or 153,787 out of 222,617 of PUVs have complied with industry consolidation. There are 1,739 cooperatives that have been formed nationwide.

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PISTON and other jeepney groups, however, said the data is misleading, since the total figure counts buses, minibuses, and other UV units. Agencies have yet to provide Rappler a breakdown per vehicle type.

PISTON said only 26% of jeepneys have consolidated, affecting some 60,000 drivers and 25,000 operators.

According to data from the Department of Energy, there are over 9 million registered vehicles in the Philippines. Of the total, jeepneys comprise only over 250,000 or just 2%. Of the total jeepneys, around a quarter operate in Metro Manila.

The Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) argued that air pollution reduction efforts “would be negligible if modernization efforts focused on jeepneys compared to private vehicles.”

“Not to mention, private car owners would also be more likely financially capable of modernizing their vehicles,” CEED said. – with reports from Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.com

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.