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Jeepney drivers, families struggle to make ends meet as fuel prices continue to rise

Several jeepney drivers stopped plying their routes with their families now struggling to make ends meet due to the continuous increase in pump prices of petroleum products.

Ferdie Calagayan was among the drivers affected by the price hikes. He has since chosen to drive a tricycle instead given the meager income he saw from driving jeepneys.

He and his family are now facing difficulties with their limited budget and expenses such as food, and the education of their children.

“Kahit na gusto nilang mag-online class, humihingi sa akin ng pang-load. Wala naman po akong maibigay dahil unahin muna namin ‘yung pang kain bago ‘yung pang load, kaya madalas absent,” he said in a report on GMA’s “24 Oras Weekend” on Sunday.

“Marami nagsasabi sa amin, ‘Ang lalaki ng katawan niyo, maghanapbuhay kayo.’ Ang hindi nila alam mahirap talaga ‘yung sitwasyon namin. Gaya niyan, gusto mo man bumiyahe, mataas naman ang gasolina,” he added.

(They want to attend online classes and they ask me for money for load credits. But I have nothing to give them because we have to prioritize food before the load credits so they are usually absent.

People keep saying, "You're big and healthy, go work." They do not know that our situation is difficult. Here's the thing, you want to ply your route but gasoline prices are high.)

Ferdie’s wife Hilda is pregnant and has been struggling to keep within the budget. She says they are now behind on rent and are about to have their lights disconnected.

“Ang ginagawa ng pinakapanganay ko, dahil gusto niyang mag-aral po, nag-o-online class, pumapasok sa trabaho kahit P100 lang ang sweldo ‘dun sa kaklase niya,” she said in the same report.

(My first-born child goes to work even if the salary is only P100 to be able to attend online classes.)

The same sentiment was shared by Lydia Palopo, whose husband drives a jeepney. She budgets her husband’s P300 daily profit to feed her family and has turned to selling viands for additional income.

“Hindi talaga kami para kumikita kasi ito, ikot ikot lang eh. Makakain man kami tapos tirang benta benta, ibibili na naman namin bukas, kain na naman kami tapos bili, ganon lang,” she said.

(We aren't making a profit because the money is rolled over. Even if we get to eat, what little money we make we use it to buy things we need tomorrow. It is just a cycle.)

Domestic pump prices have been on an uptrend for most of 2022, with only rollbacks implemented in less than half of the weeks so far this year.

Data available from the Department of Energy (DOE) showed that year-to-date adjustments stood at a net increase of P23.85 per liter for gasoline, P30.30 per liter for diesel, and P27.65 per liter for kerosene as of May 31, 2022.

Prices are set to be hiked anew this week, with oil firms set to implement another big-time increase — diesel by P4.20 to P4.50 per liter, and gasoline by P1.40 to P1.70 per liter.

The DOE attributed the expected increase to the European Union’s ban on Russian oil imports, and the impact of the eased lockdowns in China on demand. — Jon Viktor Cabuenas/DVM, GMA News