Drivers, students hold anti-jeepney phaseout protest in UP

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Several drivers and students staged anti-jeepney phaseout protest inside the campus of the University of Santo Tomas after the Department of Transportation's Inter-agency Council on Traffic conducted operation in jeepney terminals in Diliman. University Student Concil of the University of the Philippines, Twitter

MANILA, Philippines — Several students and jeepney drivers on Thursday staged a protest against the jeepney modernization program inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus.

The protesters are denouncing the Land Transportation Office’s “Oplan Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok” policy or the operation intended to remove dilapidated units for pollution reduction.

The protest came after the Department of Transportation sent representatives from the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic, composed of the LTO and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, to jeepney terminals in the Diliman area as part of its crackdown.

Drivers caught smoke belching and violating the standards of the “Oplan Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok” were fined P5,000.

Due to the operation, the University Student Council of the UPD said that some drivers have stopped operations and joined the protest. They then encouraged the students to carpool.

The DOTr deployed 10 solar-powered jeepneys and offered free rides but the student council said these were not enough to satisfy the commuter demand. The new vehicles are prototypes of the modernized public utility vehicles, eyed to replace the old and traditional jeepney units. 

'Jeepney modernization handicaps livelihood of drivers'

The student council also opposed the form of jeepney modernization saying it "further handicaps jeepney driver[s]."

“The events today only manifest our concerns with the project, casting aside the welfare and the livelihood of current jeepney drivers without a proper means of transition or compensation,” the UPD USC said in a statement.

“We see that the swift and railroaded implementation of this measure stunts the ability of current jeepney drivers and operators to adapt, endangering their livelihoods,” it added.

The state university’s student council said the transport agency’s move would result in the phasing out of jeepneys which is “detrimental to commuters.”

“Any genuine modernization mechanism should be sensitive to the struggles of the everyday jeepney driver, who is part of one of the most vulnerable sects of our society. Any move towards modernization and progress must not come at the cost of the more financially challenged sectors in our society,” the student council said.

The DOTr said that since it implemented the operation last month, the I-ACT already issued 1,124 citation tickets and 207 subpoena orders. It added that 80 public utility vehicles were impounded for violations of the smoke emission standards and failure to show registered franchise.

The agency said 1,501 units were apprehended and 10,000 commuters were provided with free rides as the representatives conduct the operation nationwide.

The jeepney drivers and other groups opposing the government’s jeepney modernization program also held a protest in Philcoa, Quezon City. They started the march in Quezon Hall. 

Last year, major transport groups staged several strikes to oppose the phase-out of old jeepney units.

The groups said operators and drivers might not be able to afford to replace their jeepneys despite the government's vow to provide financial assistance as part of the modernization program. — Rosette Adel

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