‘Jeep ng mamamayan’
The Filipino jeepney has often been lauded as a symbol of national identity. What happens to the jeep is a matter of common concern, but such identity alone has not summoned us to unite as tsuper, operators and commuters to thwart the current administration’s proposed jeepney phase-out scheme: The glaring reason to be against this plan is that this is yet another ploy by politicians to put a basic utility and essential service of the people into the hands of big business controlled by the ruling elite and oligarchs of the country.
Commuters, the nation over, are intimately familiar with the realities of jeep culture. As overseas Filipino workers saved a small nest egg from their hard-earned salaries abroad, many decided to purchase a jeepney at home. This was seen as a concrete and wise investment for their future and welfare of their families. The livelihood of more than half a million jeepney drivers and owners are at stake. Under this jeepney phase-out scheme, most jeeps that currently ply the streets will be prohibited.
A farcical objective of “modernization” has set the stage for a few key businessmen, notably Ayala and Pangilinan, to begin their efforts to corner the market in public transport. Since a single-unit franchise will not be allowed under a 10-unit minimum agreement, small economic ventures of Filipino jeepney owners will be prohibited, as big business takes over the market.
Even current jeepney drivers who find work in the new ranks will be relegated to the status of shift workers and will more than likely be subjected to contractual treatment with inadequate income. Even more, the jeepney phase-out scheme will re-order many routes and is likely to prioritize the ease of private vehicles to the detriment of the commuting majority.
Calling something an effort at “modernization” does not assure that it is in the interest of the majority or the common people. Church people, as much as anyone, would like to see the betterment of systems of operation and the efficiency of our society; however, the current jeepney phase-out plan will further concentrate both profit and power into the hands of the rich, weakening opportunities for economic participation by small business and the ‘every Juan’ of our nation.
We must stand together as commuters and drivers to insist that we nurture thriving economies in local communities to create livelihood. We denounce those who seek to subvert the welfare of many for their own monopoly and gain. No to jeepney phase-out! Hands off our jeeps!
Promotion of Church People’s Response
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