Representatives of jeepney and tricycle drivers called on government to provide jeepney and tricycle drivers relief from the pandemic through cash-for-work and livelihood grants and a moratorium on payments being made for modern electric jeepney units ordered by jeepney operators.
These were the suggestions they raised in an e-learning forum held 18 September 2020, as organized by the Mediators’ Network for Sustainable Peace, Inc. Edison ‘Bong’ Nebrija, operations manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) that oversees Metro Manila traffic, promised to bring their demands to higher authorities.
Modesto Floranda, national president of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) said that the pandemic had worsened the transport workers’ hardships. Some 200,000 jeepney drivers and operators are affected by the pandemic Including workers in the ancillary and support industries that live off the earnings from the sector. They total 2.4 million Filipinos, said Floranda.
He added many transport workers did not even receive the promised relief assistance from the government.
Noel Cabantin, Pasig-based urban poor leader and tricycle driver for a 25-years, expressed said support, saying even tricycle drivers also feel the pandemic. He reminded the participants, “Kung walang mga drayber, hindi iikot ang ekonomiya (If there are no drivers, the economy will not operate.)”
Floranda also asked the government to open hundreds of traditional jeepney routes that were closed on account of the pandemic. Their forcible closure forced the drivers out of work, and to date, only a few routes were opened. In contrast, the modern jeepney was given expanded routes that covered and expanded beyond the traditional jeepney routes.
Nebrija suggested that jeepney operators also lower the boundary, or payments made to them by drivers for using their jeepneys in plying their routes.