MANILA, Philippines – Students from the University of the Philippines- Diliman had a hard time going to class on Thursday, February 8, after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) took its “Oplan Alis Bulok, Alis Usok” project to the premier state university.
According Ceasar Sarmiento, president of the Ikot Jeepney Association, the crackdown on operating jeepneys started in the morning without prior notice.
“Kapag nahuli ka, pinakamababa mong babayaran ay ilang libo. Kahit wala kang violations, hahalungkatin ang jeepney mo para magkaroon ng violation,” Sarmiento said.
(When you are caught, the lowest violation would cost you thousands. Even if you have no clear violation, they would go through your jeep to find one)
According to him, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) officers were stationed at different areas along the routes of UP jeepneys. He described the interception as a hassle – “perwisyo” in Filipino – not only among jeepney drivers but also among students who mostly depend on the public utility vehicle in going around the campus.
“Sinabi nila na after 3 years ‘yung modernization program. Dapat hintayin yun. Pinepwersyo na maliliit na mamamayan. Dapat tinutulungan yung mga maliliit na driver operator,” Sarmiento added.
(They said they are going to implement the modernization program in 3 years. They should wait for that. They are causing inconvenience among low-wage earners like us. Instead, they should be helping small-time drivers and operators like us)
A single violation may cost a jeepney driver P3000-P5000. According to Sarmiento, however, they earn only an average of P1000 on a “good” day. (READ: How Piston imagines jeepney modernization)
Following the crackdown, UP students and jeepney drivers took to the streets their call against the jeepney phaseout launched by the transportation agency.
In a video posted by the student regent, Noel Salvador, president of the Toki jeepney association called on UP employees, students and vendors to join them in their fight for their livelihood.
“Aasahan namin kayo para tuloy tuloy natin palakasin ng ating idudulog sa administratyon Duterte para hindi matuloy ang phaseout na pangunahing pinagkukuhan ng driver at operator ng pangkabuhayan,” Salvador said.
(We are banking on you to join us and strengthen our message for the Duterte administration so they could stop this phaseout that could cause the loss of livelihood for drivers and operators like us)
In a statement, DOTr slammed the students – specifically members of militant youth organization Anakbayan – for leading the protests against the jeepney phaseout.
“Anakbayan prides itself as a progressive youth organization. Sadly, their actions speak of the opposite…The DOTr is bent on giving the riding public a safer and more comfortable commuting experience. Is Anakbayan opposed to better public transportation?” DOTr said.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Member Aileen Lizada, spokespoerson of iACT, also clarified that the fine is for the non-compliance of the operators to the Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01 that sets the standard for operating vehicles.
According to transportation agency, the surprise operation was conducted after DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade “received text complaints from UP students during an interview in a radio program that there are a lot of old, dilapidated, and smoke-belching jeepneys roaming in UP.”
The department also mobilized solar-powered jeepneys to ferry affected passengers to their destinations.
“Implementing the campaign against smoke-belching PUVs is a tough, but necessary task. It is long overdue. This is an integral part of the PUV Modernization Program, which aims to bring about a comprehensive system reform of the public transportation industry,” DOTr said.
As part of its PUV modernization program, the DOTr has started its “Oplan Alis Bulok, Alis Usok” program in early January this year. Since then, the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (i-ACT) has issued 1,124 citation tickets and 207 subpoena orders.
The composite teams that have been intercepting vehicles are assigned to issue a temporary operation receipt (TOP) and give operators 24 hours to bring their vehicles to the LTO-Motor Vehicle Inspection Center for roadworthy inspection.
At least, 80 PUVs were impounded due to violations of the smoke emission standards and/or failure to show a registered franchise. In all, 1,501 PUVs were apprehended, while almost 10,000 were provided with free ride amid conduct of the operation, in line with the implementation of the PUV modernization program nationwide.
Below are some tweets by UP students on the issue:
– with reports from Aika Rey/Rappler.com