How to help jeepney drivers affected by the coronavirus lockdown
MANILA, Philippines – Jeepney drivers have not earned anything since coronavirus lockdowns were imposed on most of the country.
Mass transportation was suspended in areas under lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease beginning mid-March. Although the country has eased quarantine measures starting June 1, jeepney drivers have not been allowed to return to the roads just yet.
In order to continue operations, jeepney drivers will have to apply for a special permit from the Land Transportation Franchising Board (LTFRB). The process involves getting clearances from each town or city covered by their route and being part of a cooperative or corporation, among others.
Aside from the complicated process, traditional jeepneys also fall in the lower tier of LTFRB’s priorities in granting special permits, while buses and modern jeepneys rank higher.
To help jeepney drivers who have had no income for almost 3 months now, transport group Piston is accepting donations of the following items:
- Surgical masks
- Hand soap
- Baby diapers
- Rubbing alcohol
- Canned goods
- Instant noodles
- Baby families
These may be dropped off at Balai Obrero Foundation, 63 Narra Street, Barangay Claro, Project 3, Quezon City. Donors may coordinate with Nedy Gonzaga through 09208580754.
Piston is also accepting cash donations to help the affected families of jeepney drivers. Interested donors may deposit to the following account:
Piston Land Transport Coalition
For more details, people may contact Cely Floranda at 0929 296 6099.
Help Piston 6
Piston is also calling for support to help free 6 jeepney drivers who were arrested in Caloocan City on Tuesday, June 2, while holding a protest calling for the resumption of their operations during the general community quarantine.
Among the drivers who were arrested are Piston deputy secretary general Ruben Balyon and 72-year-old Elmer Cordero.
According to Piston, the 6 drivers were brought to the precinct and then to the Caloocan City Hall, where they learned that they were charged with "disobedience to social distancing" and fined P3,000 each.
Piston refuted the claim, saying the drivers observed physical distancing and wore face masks. The group said it was "unjust" to punish them on top of the hunger they already experienced due to the halt in their operations.
As of Wednesday night, June 3, the drivers were still detained in a holding area at the Caloocan City Hall. Piston said it was still unclear what charges would be filed against the jeepney drivers, as they awaited the prosecutor’s resolution.
Piston is accepting cash donations to be used to help free Piston 6. To donate, deposit to any of the accounts below:
BPI Bank Account
Piston Land Transport Coalition
Bank transfers should include a note saying #FreePiston6.
Aside from donating, people may also help affected jeepney drivers by signing this petition that seeks to allow jeepneys and other public utility vehicles to operate.
Palakasin din natin ang panawagan ng mga driver at operator na makabalik sa pamamasada at makaagapay sa mga manggagawang umaasa sa pampublikong transportasyon!— PISTON (@pistonph) June 2, 2020
PETISYON PARA IPABIYAHE ANG LAHAT NG JEEPNEY AT IBA PANG PUV - Sign the Petition! https://t.co/xzv6EItYRS