The Duterte administration’s jeepney modernization program threatens to replace some 250,000 old-type jeepneys. The program slated to commence in January 2018 will phase-out old-type jeepneys and replace these with Euro-4, electric, solar or hybrid vehicles. Jeepney operators are being encouraged by government to avail of the new jeeps for which small jeepney drivers will be compelled to cough up a huge amount daily. Jeepney drivers oppose this jeepney phase-out because it will imperil their livelihood. According to PISTON, the program is designed to benefit big business that will be selling the new-type jeepneys.
Commuters meanwhile wish to register their opposition to government’s jeepney phase-out campaign as the sale of foreign-manufactured machines wil most likely jack-up jeepney fares at the expense of mostly minimum- or low-income jeepney riders. Government’s re-routing scheme also has yet to be revealed to the riding public. There has so far been no consultation of stakeholders as this route rationalization plan is being crafted.
The jeepney modernization plan is flawed since government’s duty to ensure a safe, efficient, affordable and reliable transport system is passed on to profit-seeking corporations at the expense of small jeepney drivers and commuters. According to consumer groups such as SUKI, commuters’ riding experience with existing privatized transport modes already shows that it has not only been costly but wrought with breakdowns and inefficiencies, as in the case of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3).
There is an urgent need to articulate this to the public and to beef-up the call for a nationalized mass transport that prioritizes public welfare over corporate want.