To most of us who’ve grown used to commuting to get around, we usually see public transport as an inconvenience and burden, evidence of how far we have to go as a country.
This is partly why for many people, today’s strike came as a surprise. We rarely think about the conditions jeepney drivers have to deal with on a daily basis, and the institutions and regulations that influence their livelihood. Allow us to get you up to speed on what’s been happening so far.
Who are the groups involved?
Department of Transportation and Communication
During the Pnoy administration, the TODC proposed a phase out of all public utility vehicles (PUV), or jeepneys, 15 years or older. The proposal would require operators to purchase new PUV units which utilize low carbon, low emission technology.
The Philippines’ Land Transportation of Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)
The vision of the LTFRB is as follows: “World-class land transportation services contributing to the overall development of the country, improvement of the socio-economic status of its stakeholders, and promotion of the welfare of the general public.” In response to the strike, the LTFRB provided as many as 50 government vehicles to help commutters. The Land Transport Office (LTO) is also assisting the LTFRB, deploying buses for stranded commuters.
PISTON stands for “Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide,” a transport group lead by national president George San Mateo, who advocates for rehabilitating current jeepney models, as opposed to junking current models and replacing them with e-jeepneys. According to piston, LTFRB’s proposal to require operators to purchase new, “cleaner” jeepneys would costs millions of pesos and drag operators deep into debt. San Mateo, alongside the leaders of the STOP & GO Coalition and the No To Jeepney Phase Out Coalition, are leading the nationwide strike. Other transport groups within and outside of Manila are also participating.
The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines is another transport group participating in the strike. Its President, Zenaida Maranan, has suggested to modernize current jeepney models instead of phasing them out completely.
What do jeepney drivers stand to lose?
Basically, their livelihood. While the LTFRB aims to generally improve Philippine public transport by lowering carbon emissions, many jeepney drivers stand to lose their jobs, or dole out a lot of cash to meet the LTFRB’s current demands. Jeepney drivers barely make enough to provide for themselves or their families — the proposal would only add to their burden.
Is this the first time this is happening?
No. A similar strike was held on February 6. This rally was resolved when the LTFRB called for a dialogue with the transport groups. However, the dialogue did not bring about any satisfactory changes to the proposal, which is why another strike took place today.
Is it rude to celebrate the fact that classes were suspended?
Yes, yes it is. Don’t be the jerk that yells “Yay suspension!” or “Hassle naman ng strike, bro.” Focus on the workers fighting for their livelihood.