Jeepney ‘modernization’ only for Big Business
We agree with jeepney drivers that we must question and denounce the deceptive jeepney “modernization” program. As we now know, “modernization” has been hijacked as a term by Big Business and their corrupt allies in government, and turned into a label for selling out public mass transportation at the expense of commuters. Example: the MRT and LRT lines in Metro Manila.
Filipino commuters demand a truly modern public mass transportation — adequate and affordable especially for the poor and the lower-middle class, which have no other transport choices. We cannot repeat the gross error of the MRT which put mass rail in the hands of Big Business.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr), under past administrations and under President Duterte, cannot pretend to be procommuter. It is incompetent, pro-Big Business, pro-bureaucrat capitalist, anti-innovation and anti-commuter.
By vigorously pursuing the sham and deceptive jeepney modernization plan, the DOTr is coming out as anti-tsuper and puts itself squarely against the interest of millions of Filipinos who have to bear the costs of its policies.
We cannot begin to imagine what will happen to students, workers, the unemployed, migrants from provinces, small entrepreneurs and market vendors, and others who depend mainly on jeepneys if the DOTr’s plan goes unchallenged. It is a plan that puts banks, lenders, engine manufacturers, the oil cartel, and other oligarchs first. It is a plan that puts us last and would impose fare increases. Worst of all, it is a plan that will jeopardize the livelihood of 250,000 small jeepney operators and 650,000 jeepney drivers.
We commuters should unite with jeepney drivers. Our main public mass transport is in danger of being sold out, corporatized, and turned into new milking cows of oligarchs. This cannot be the solution to our traffic and transport woes.
We call for a real, sustainable transport modernization policy that stimulates local manufacturing, creates jobs, and truly improves the livelihood of jeepney drivers and operators. It is only when the state turns its back on Big Business and actually listens to the main stakeholders—the drivers, operators and the commuting public — can we start to hammer out a propeople ransport modernization program.
ANGELO SUAREZ, spokesperson, Train Riders Network, firstname.lastname@example.org
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