‘Para po!’ | Inquirer Opinion

‘Para po!’

Para po! The magic words that all of us commuters use to tell jeepney drivers that they have taken us where we need to be so that we can do what we must.

Para po makapag-aral.

As a student, the jeepney is the cheapest mode of transportation available to attend my day-to-day classes in college. In fact, all the students I see in the jeepney are in the same boat as me. The low price of jeepney fares allows us to save our money for our other necessities and helps us students complete the most basic task expected of us, and that is to show up. Currently, here in Baguio, the fare for students in a modern jeepney is P12 and P11 in a traditional jeepney. The price difference may seem small for the uninitiated, but for students, every peso counts.

Para po makapagtrabaho.


One time, during my morning commute, I happened to be in the same jeep as my professor, taking this public transport so she could fulfill her duty of educating her students. In another instance, during one of my commutes home from school, a middle-aged woman loaded around seven boxes of groceries in the jeepney with the help of porters. An old man making conversation with the woman said “mas maganda pa ito sa bus na ’yon,” comparing the traditional jeepneys with the modernized jeeps. Agreeing with the old man, the woman replied, “Dalawang karton pa lang nagrereklamo na sila,” pointing at her boxes of groceries. I could not hear the rest of the conversation, but I understood what the woman was saying: “‘Pag phase-out, walang trabaho.”

With the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP), the future of jeepneys, their drivers, and commuters appears grim. Jeepney operators are incapable of affording modern jeepneys whose price tag is above P2 million; this will leave them jobless. Fare increases for commuters are also inevitable, resulting in commuters gritting their teeth since they have to bear the unfair fare because the jeep is the only option they have other than walking under the scorching heat of the sun.

Para po sa kalikasan.

One of the main reasons for the PUVMP is to reduce air pollution in the country. It is a noble pursuit to improve the country’s environment and help in the fight against climate change, but that does not immediately justify the oppression of the poor. The PUVMP needs to be implemented in a way that does not destroy the livelihood of the country’s jeepney drivers and puts the onus on commuters to bear the consequence of expensive fares.


Para po sa bayan.

It is not that I don’t want our country to progress. I, too, desire the air we breathe to be cleaner and the transportation we use to be safer. The PUVMP will also improve the service of jeepneys since the drivers will be under a cooperative, thus, enhancing their efficiency. However, simply replacing the vehicle used for transportation will not solve everything, and other issues still need to be addressed. How will jeepney operators fix their modernized jeepneys if they cannot afford the imported parts necessary for the repairs? How will commuters go to their jobs and students attend their classes if they can’t afford the cost of transportation? The fares for transportation will increase, but can we say the same for the salaries of those affected?


I am not an expert on transportation systems, but it does not take a genius to know that the PUVMP will cause more problems than it will solve. For me, it is clear that the program will only torment commuters and burden jeepney drivers. The program is under the guise of a greener tomorrow, essentially exploiting the poor to cough up money they do not have while foreign manufacturers profit from the imported modern jeepneys and their parts.

Considering the financial situation of jeepney drivers and how they are now being abandoned, it is a far cry from what a king of the road deserves. Instead of uplifting them, they are thrown into the depths of poverty. Our kings deserve a just transition for serving the public for as long as we can remember. They were there when we needed them to take us to school, to our jobs, and to our loved ones. More importantly, they heeded our call, our every “para.” Now, they need us to be vocal and fight for their livelihood. The fight of the king is the fight of its citizens. If they lose, we all lose.

Para po sa kanila at sa ating lahat—para po!


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Gabriel J. Delgado, 22, is a computer science student at the University of the Philippines Baguio.

TAGS: opinion, youngblood

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