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Jeepney phaseout will affect 650,000 drivers, 250,000 operators - PISTON

InterAksyon logo InterAksyon 1/17/2017 Tricia Aquino,

MANILA, Philippines -- About 2,000 jeepney drivers staged a protest caravan from Quezon Memorial Circle to Mendiola on Monday to protest the proposed phaseout of jeepneys and small jeepney franchises, which they said will affect 650,000 drivers and 250,000 operators.

In an interview with InterAksyon, George San Mateo, president of the transport group PISTON, said the phaseout was first proposed during the time of President Benigno Aquino III and appears to be imminent under President Rodrigo Duterte if statements by Transportation Secretary Art Tugade and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Martin Delgra are any indication.

According to a pamphlet PISTON members distributed at the Mendiola rally, a draft department order of what was then the Department of Transportation and Communications proposed the modernization of jeepneys. 

BusinessWorld reported that jeepneys 15 years and older would have to be replaced. Holders of Certificates of Public Convenience would be required to purchase new public utility jeepney units "compliant with guidelines on low-carbon, low-emission technology."

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But such a plan would force operators to buy electric jeepneys and Euro 4-compliant engines, which would cost millions of pesos and bury them in debt, PISTON said.

Meanwhile, "route rationalization" is being proposed under House Bill 4334 (Traffic Crisis Act of 2016 Maki-isa, Makisama, Magka-isa) and Senate Bill 1284 (Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016), through which existing routes would be reviewed by the Department of Transportation. The DOTr would then decide which ones should be traversed by jeeps, buses, trains, and tricycles. 

Under this scheme, said San Mateo, jeepney franchises would be cancelled, new routes opened, and new franchises created. Single operators could no longer apply for a franchise since a minimum of 20 jeepney units, needing a capital of P7 million, will be required.

By 2019, the minimum would be raised to 40 jeepney units.

"It is not a simple phaseout, but a corporate takeover of jeepneys," San Mateo said.

This is why they, he added, they are asking Duterte to stop the phaseout and corporatization, which would begin next year.

The 650,000 jeepney drivers and 250,000 jeepney operators would not be the only ones affected by the proposal, San Mateo said. 

"These are just direct stakeholders. When you include their families, multiply it by a family of six or five, more or less it will reach four million. And there are peripheral businesses that are dependent on jeepneys to think of, too. Carinderia, vulcanizing shop, auto supply... So maybe it's about five million," he said.


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