June 20, 2024

A group of jeepney drivers recently threatened to go on strike if the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will implement the jeepney modernization program.
The affected operators and drivers claim that should the LTFRB insist on phasing out jeepneys that failed to comply with the government’s program to modernize the public transportation system within the period prescribed, which is until March 15, they will stop ferrying passengers from their point of origin to their point of destination and vice-versa.
As usual, the jeepney drivers were able to coerce the government to give in to their demand and get away with complying with the law. They were granted an extension until Dec. 31.
This is not the first time that the LTFRB bowed to the whims and caprices of jeepney operators and drivers by allowing an extension for them to comply with the modernization program. In fact, this is already the fourth or third (?). And judging by the way the LTFRB tolerates to the desire of the operators and drivers, there might be no end to the extensions making the modernization program an inutile law.
The jeepney modernization program of the government had been envisioned as far back as 2016 during the Duterte administration.
Yet, due to numerous threats from affected groups and individuals, claiming that the law is anti-poor, it was stalled several times to the consternation of the riding public. It is about time the government shows its grit and will in implementing the law notwithstanding the threats and coercions. The government and the riding public should not be held in ransom by jeepney operators who do not want progress and development.
You see, the conditions imposed by the jeepney modernization program are attainable, and, in the long run, beneficial to all. For instance, the requirement that jeepney drivers must organize is for the purpose of promoting their right to bargain. If they are in a position to bargain, the long hated “boundary system” which makes drivers drive like crazy will be curtailed.
In the same manner, the maintenance of public utility vehicles will be upgraded if the expense is to be borne by organizations rather than the individual drivers thereby lessening “eye sores,” “rolling coffins” as well as pollutants.
The drivers, who will be receiving a fixed salary and will be considered regular employees, shall thence be entitled to membership in government trust funds like Social Security System making them secure after they retire. In a way, the social and environmental benefit of the modernization program outweigh the argument that it is anti-poor.
The drivers and operators of jeepneys must realize that the “anti-poor” argument is prejudiced and downright illogical. It is one used by persons who desire to continue exploiting the ignorance and gullibility of the lowly drivers.
On the other hand, the jeepney modernization program is one that will educate them and make them decent and respectable members of the society.
Hence, there should no longer be any further delay in the implementation of the jeepney modernization program. More than the riding public and the government, the jeepney drivers need it.