A transport official who said that driving a jeepney should no longer be viewed as a source of livelihood sparked outrage among drivers and operators and drew condemnation from Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate public services committee.
Poe slammed Transport Assistant Secretary Mark Richmund de Leon for his “insensitive” remarks in the face of uncertainties that jeepney drivers face when transport modernization fully rolls out.
“These people are so insensitive ano, gigising ka nang napakaaga para mamasada, trip-trip lang ‘yon, para lang pampalipas oras? ‘Yung mga driver na nakapagtaguyod ng kanilang mga anak na nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral, bakit kaya nila ginagawa ang sakripisyong ito?” Poe said.
She also reminded transport officials to support those who will be affected by the modernization.
Poe noted that several transport groups have been complaining that the subsidy of P80,000 that they will receive is insufficient to purchase a “modern” jeepney that costs about P1.8 million.
“If P1.8 million, and then their subsidy is just small, how can they buy a jeep? The DOTr should think about this matter,” she said.
“When you speak, you would think there’s no compassion, they’re insensitive,” Poe, who said that she was not against modernization nor the transport groups and leaders that she spoke with.
“Alam ko andiyan sila [Department of Transportation] para sa modernisasyon, nandiyan din naman ako, gusto rin naman nating maayos ang ating transportasyon. Pero ‘wag nilang kalilimutan na 600,000 mga driver ang naka-depende sa trabahong ‘yan,” Poe added.
She added that if the government would resort to modernization, it should also think on how to give jobs to those who will be affected. She said that’s the responsibility of the government.
“The government should not earn, but it should be the people who should have jobs,” she said.
Poe took up the cudgels for some 600,000 jeepney drivers nationwide who regard driving as their primary source of income for their families.
Poe said the Transportation department should not favor a few groups or individuals.
She also pressed the government to release in full the subsidies for the jeepney drivers, under the Pantawid Pasada Program.