‘Transport modernization program should not come at the expense of drivers and operators’


The modernization of public utility jeepneys (PUJ) and the transition to an environment-friendly mode of transportation should not come at the expense of jeepney drivers and operators who stand to be affected by the plan, climate justice advocates under the 350.org Pilipinas said on Wednesday.

The group said freedom of movement is a right that is endowed to everyone and therefore its protection is a common good that should be ensured by the government.

“Making streets [safer] to different modes of transport is therefore crucial to ensuring that this right is respected and enjoyed by everyone,” the group added.

However, citing a study that shows 88 percent of Filipino households in Metro Manila and the Greater Manila Area do not own cars, the group said public transportation is the arteries of cities, and as such, they play a critical role in ensuring that the needs of those who do not own private vehicles are met.

With the current transportation crisis, the group agreed to the need to modernize the public transport system, “as we strive to be more efficient and contribute towards the reduction of our carbon footprint from transportation.”

However, the group said more importantly, it should not come at the expense of displacing PUJ drivers.

According to the group, a jeepney phase out will reportedly cost the livelihood of around 500,000 drivers and 300,000 small operators and will affect 2 million families who depend on jeepneys.

“With this, we stand in solidarity with the jeepney drivers’ strike against their enforced phase out,” the group said.

According to 350.org Pilipinas, the goal of a modernized transport system should not be limited by merely changing the type, engine, and fuel of public utility vehicles.

“It is also about improving urban mobility conditions with safer, better, cleaner, cost-effective transport options to lessen dependence on imported fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions.”

“A just transition means transforming social systems in the transport sector to meet a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy that maximizes the benefits of climate action while at the same minimizing hardships for transportation workers and their families in the present and the future,” the group stressed.

This transition should be guided by the equity that recognizes and ensures the rights and well-being of transport workers and commuters, the group said.

Image credits: AP/Aaron Favila