Members of transport groups have warned on Wednesday that they would set their jeepneys on fire in protest as the government continues to give them a runaround on when they will be allowed to ply the streets again amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Efren de Luna, national president of Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO), said they see no end to current ban on jeepneys due to the pandemic since the government has been increasing the routes for the deployed buses and modern public utility vehicles (PUVs).
“Talagang sinabi natin ‘yan (na susunugin na lang namin ang aming mga jeep). Huling hirit naman iyon, kung patuloy na babalewalain ang mga traditional jeepney, ibabalagbag namin ito sa gitna ng kalsada,” De Luna said during an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.
“Okay lang naman na kami ang mahuli (na payagan bumiyahe), basta bigyan kami ng pagkakataon na kami ay makalabas (para sa byahe). Pero pinaiikot-ikot kami. Ang sabi kung kulang ang sasakayan, ang serbisyo namin ang susuporta, pero lahat ng ruta ng jeep na tinatakbuhan na namin, nilalagyan na nila ng bus at modern jeep. Ano pang mangyayari sa amin? May inaantay ba kami? Binobola lang kami,” De Luna said.
De Luna vowed that jeepney drivers will be determined in fighting for their survival.
“Wala na kaming pupuntahan pa, ipe-phase out na kami. Gawin naming private vehicle? Hindi naman papasa iyan,” De Luna said.
“Kaya may binabalak kaming pagkilos. Ipapakita namin na mahalaga pa rin kami sa lipunan at hindi dapat balewalain ng gobyerno ang traditional jeepneys,” he added.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that jeepneys will not be allowed to ply the streets since passengers sit face-to-face, a situation that risks COVID-19 transmission.
Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire, on the other hand, said that individuals will not be at risk of getting COVID-19 as long as they wear masks and maintain distance from other persons when riding a vehicle regardless if it is air-conditioned or open air.
Traditional jeepneys are open air vehicles, while some modern PUVs and buses are air-conditioned.
Some jeepney drivers are already begging for money in the streets, while some families of the drivers were forced to sleep on the jeepney since they no longer have money to pay rent./Stacy Ang