Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday urged the government not to phase out traditional jeepneys amid the coronavirus pandemic, stressing that it will further put struggling jeepney drivers at a disadvantage.
Robredo noted an IBON Foundation report stating that jeepney drivers have lost around P78,000 in income each due to the shutdown of mass public transportation under the community quarantine imposed to curb coronavirus transmission.
The vice president lamented news items suggesting that the government plans to use the pandemic as an “opportunity” to implement the controversial jeepney modernization program.
“Kung ipipilit mo iyon, na hindi kayang mag-modernize as of this time, at hindi mo ipapakayod, e ‘di pinaboran mo na naman iyong mga mayroon. Ang kawawa naman iyong mga wala,” she said in her weekly radio show.
Robredo underscored that she is not opposed to jeepney modernization but acknowledged the high price that jeepney drivers would have to pay to comply.
“Iyong sa akin kasi, kung mayroon namang pera itong mga drivers saka mga owners, susunod naman ito eh. Pero kaya sila hindi makasunod kasi wala silang capacity,” she said.
“Parang lalong inaapakan iyong dati nang nakadapa. So iyong sa akin lang, sana mas maging compassionate iyong LTFRB dito, iyong DOTr, na okay naman na gawin iyong modernization ngayon, pero siguruhin na wala namang maiiwan,” she added.
Malacañang earlier said “roadworthy” traditional jeepneys will be allowed to ply roads if modern units are not enough to accommodate the volume of commuters.
The Department of Transportation said public transport will resume in two phases under the general community quarantine, with Phase 2 beginning on June 22. — Julia Mari Ornedo/BM, GMA News