FRANKLY, I find it strange that Bacolod’s jeepney drivers refused the nationwide call last week of the No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition to go on a nationally-coordinated transport strike.
And yet the Coalition propaganda claimed that over 90 percent or 225,000 out of the estimated 250,000 jeepney units nationwide joined them.
The militant United Negros Drivers Operators Center (Undoc), joined by the Sentrong Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Negros, and Federation of Bacolod City Drivers Association, continued plying the streets during the 38th MassKara Festival. Waay personalay, pamugas-bugas lang.
But don’t think of Bacolod jeepney drivers as wimps. As we know from previous transport strikes, when these Bacolod drivers throw a tantrum, they can make the city’s street look like normal traffic on Good Fridays.
Is it just a case of making hay while the sun shines? Because if that’s the case, there wouldn’t have been any strikes at all. I might disagree with their methods. But no one can call them unprincipled. They do stand up for what they perceive as their rights such as to a livelihood.
I suspect though that our drivers are not worried about the coming phaseout.
Transport regulators called the planned “phase out” a modernization program for public utility vehicles.
In 2016, the then-Department of Transportation and Communication initiated the implementation of the jeepney phaseout to improve passenger safety and to promote the use of environment-friendly vehicles.
Jeepneys over 15 years old would be taken off the roads and be replaced with new vehicles such as electronic jeeps.
I suspect Bacolod drivers are prepared to make the shift. Why not? On my way to the Prayer and Life Workshop, I ride these BEVs going to the Bacolod City Police Office compound.
E-jeepneys are slowly moving into the mainstream transport superhighway in the Philippines, extending from Metro Manila to the provinces. It is now in Iloilo and Bacolod City.
Rommel Juan, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (Evap), says that as the domestic EV technology continues to improve further in the country, Evap and its member companies will be able to address all the EV needs of the country and even beyond in terms of export potentials.
Says Mr. Juan, “Technical partnerships, joint ventures and tie ups and more foreign suppliers of EV parts and components are setting up shop locally. With these developments, we are well on our way to becoming the EV hub of Asia.”
I can only concur. Transport modernization? Bring it on.