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Protest march launched vs jeepney phaseout

By CHITO A. CHAVEZ

Thousands of transport group members mounted yesterday a protest caravan against the proposed jeepney phaseout as part of the government’s plan to institute its jeepney modernization program.

Members of the No-to-Jeepney Phaseout Coalition gathered early on Elliptical Road in Quezon City as they rejected the program, citing that millions of jeepney drivers and operators would be unemployed once the plan is enforced.

Among those who joined the coalition are members of the Pinagkaisahang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON).

The protesting drivers marched towards Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang where they planned to air their grievances to President Duterte.

The members of the group wanted to discuss the planned public utility vehicle modernization project of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), specifically the replacement of jeepneys with electric models.

“No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition’’ convenor George San Mateo stressed that the plan would definitely put the financial burden on the lowly drivers who have no resources to comply with the program.

Roughly about 600,000 drivers and 300,000 jeepney operators are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the modernization plan.

Under the plan, old jeepneys and other public utility vehicles will be phased out.

Earlier, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said that many of the jeepneys are no longer road-worthy and environment-friendly.

With the modernization plan, routes and a travel time per route will be set and drivers will undergo training.

Instead of the planned phase-out, drivers urged President Duterte to just rehabilitate their vehicles.

Monday’s transport caravan caused the suspension of classes in Malolos and San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan and inconvenience to commuters in many areas.

The transport groups vowed to conduct another massive rally when the President delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24 if their call remains unheeded.

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