MANILA, Philippines – Transport groups urged the government to fix the country’s mass transit system before phasing out jeepneys in a protest on Monday, February 19.
Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) and No To Jeepney Phaseout Coalition (NTJPC) held a protest on Monday against the government’s “Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok” program.
The program removes deteriorated jeepneys on the road.
San Mateo took a swipe at the government for its “incompetence” in maintaining the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3). (READ: Down to 8 trains: How the MRT3 packs 260,000 commuters daily)
“Yung MRT, private company pero pinopondohan ng billions of public money. Bulok pa rin! Incompetent sila ta’s ang inaaccuse nila ng incompetence ang maliliit na operator?” said San Mateo.
(The MRT3 is [owned] by a private company but is funded by billions of public money. It’s still worn out! They (government) are incompetent then they accuse us, the small operators, of incompetence?)
“Hindi kami incompetent dahil ang daming regulatory fees, multa, at fines na pinapataw ng gobyerno sa amin. ‘Yung MRT wala namang fines ‘yan. So ang gobyerno, wala siya sa higher moral ground para laitin ang mga jeepneys,” San Mateo said.
(We are not incompetent because of the many regulatory fees, penalties, and fines that the government imposes on us. But the MRT was not fined. The government is not on a higher moral ground to insult jeepneys.)
On Monday, the MRT3 experienced two power glitches in a day, starting the operations late in the morning and implementing provisional service in the afternoon. (READ: MRT3 suffers almost daily breakdowns since start of 2018)
But according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), they are merely implementing the Land Transportation and Traffic Code and the Clean Air Act.
“Enforcement shouldn’t be an issue for them to be reminded of their responsibility to their riders. They should become responsible public utility vehicle (PUV) operators,” LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada said in a mix of English and Filipino on Monday.
San Mateo alleges that the Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok program is a “smokescreen” for PUV modernization.
In a House hearing in December 2017, Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that all PUVs would be required to modernize after a 3-year transition period.
“‘Yung transition period na sinasabi nila, mapanlinlang. Smokescreen ito sa pagpapatupad ng phaseout, kunwari ang layunin tanggalin ang bulok at usok. (The transition period that they are saying is deceptive. This is a smokescreen to implement the phaseout, in the guise of removing wornout [jeeps] and smoke-belching),” San Mateo said.
On Thursday, February 15, the DOTr said that the PUV modernization program will push through despite the protests of jeepney groups.
“There is no stopping the government from implementing the PUV modernization program. In a few months, the first batch of modern and environment-friendly vehicles will be rolled out, and after decades of suffering, commuters will soon experience safer and more comfortable journeys,” the DOTr said in a statement.
The PUV modernization program aims to replace PUVs running for 15 years or more with new vehicles that have safety features. The goal is to promote safer and environment-friendly transport options to the commuting public.