Jeepney drivers and operators initiated a two-day national transport strike on Monday, April 15 at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus in Quezon City. Approximately 30 jeepneys lined the avenue, bearing banners and slogans echoing their demands.

Following their demonstration at UP Diliman, the protesters proceeded to Mendiola, Manila.

The strike, organized by transport groups Piston and Manibela, aims to protest the looming deadline for the franchise consolidation of public utility vehicles (PUV) mandated by the government’s PUV modernization program.

Under this program, jeepney operators are required to surrender their individual franchises and join a cooperative or corporation by April 30, failing which they would be unable to operate their routes.

Eventually, operators must replace their old units with modern vehicles compliant with the Philippine National Standard.

Piston’s Deputy Secretary General, Ruben Baylon, emphasized the ‘inhumanity’ of this phaseout, arguing that it jeopardizes the livelihoods of Filipino drivers and operators.

“Ang gusto namin ay rehabilitation. Ang gusto namin, manatili ang [iconic] jeep. Ang jeep ang bumuhay sa ekonomiyang pangkalagayan ng bawat Pilipinong tsuper at operator,” Baylon told reporters.

(Our aim is rehabilitation; we want the iconic jeep to remain. The jeep has sustained the economic well-being of every Filipino driver and operator.)

The government began its PUV modernization program in 2017 and has so far established 1,728 cooperatives and corporations with 262,344 members, according to the Department of Transportation.

In a previous statement in January, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. explained that the modernization program seeks “to address both the aggravating transport-related problems and the future transportation demand of the country.”

“The program aims to fundamentally transform the public transport system in the country making both commuting and public transportation operations more dignified, humane, and on par with global standards,” Marcos said. 

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