Transport group marks Bonifacio Day with protest

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Embodying Andres Bonifacio’s bravery in fighting for the country’s sovereignty, the Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator na tutol sa Phaseout (STOP) on Thursday, November 30, staged a rally to protest anew the Department of Transportation’s plan to phase out jeepneys.

The rally gathered almost a thousand jeepney federation officers from Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and as far as Baguio, Rizal and Quezon for a protest caravan which started in this city’s Dolores intersection going to Salakot in Clark where the general assembly was held.

A torch parade was also conducted by STOP along with other militant groups Workers for People’s Liberation and Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya as a form of voicing out their concerns against the roll out of the program.

STOP Spokesperson Dan Yumul reiterated in a statement the group’s opposition against the DOTr’s public utility jeepneys (PUJ) Modernization Program which they claim is a jeepney phaseout plan that would require the purchase of newer, more expensive models.

He said that the planned program will only result to massive economic repercussions as those relying on their current vehicles will be compelled to junk their old units for the new ones.

Junking the old units will put in jeopardy and will directly affect the lives of millions of people whose main source of income are dependent on the transportation sector — from the drivers and operators, and their families and other related business. This is still excluding the workers, students and other commuters who use the same mode of transportation each day, Yumul said.

“Many of us have invested our retirement grants or the fruits of our years of being in the work force here and abroad into our jeepney units. Now, the government wants us to let it go, and as quickly, compel us to buy a new unit which can cost more than a million pesos, forcing us to buy it on credit and mire us in debt for years,” Yumul lamented.

If the modernization program will be implemented, Yumul said that PUVs and other public utility vehicles will be junked even if it passes the Motor Inspection Vehicles System (MIVS) and Road Worthiness Test (RWT).

The group is now urging the national government to allow vehicles with present MIVS and RWT to ply their routes and enable them to renew their franchises, while deploying the modernized PUJs and let the public decide on which to ride.

Yumul said that more actions can be expected from the group if the government will continue to ignore their concerns and push through with the alleged “ill-thought out” policy.
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