December 14, 2023
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) stands in solidarity with jeepney drivers and operators who are conducting a nationwide strike on December 14-15 in the Philippines. “This strike follows the November 20-22 nationwide jeepney drivers’ strike, which was 90 per cent effective, but the Marcos Jr. government isn’t listening yet,” said Peter Murphy, ICHRP Global Council Chairperson.
The strike is led by PISTON (Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Unity of Association of Drivers and Operators Nationwide), a national federation of workers in public transportation. They are protesting the violation by the Philippine government of their economic, social and cultural rights. The phaseout puts their livelihood at stake, endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands families.
“The Philippine government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) is a PUV phaseout disguised as modernization. It serves not the interests of small jeepney drivers and operators, but of big corporations who will take over the Philippine public transportation sector,” said Murphy. “Currently jeepneys are produced in the Philippines using imported second-hand engines. ‘Modern’ jeepneys will be fully imported.”
The Philippine government Department of Transportation (DOTr) launched the PUVMP in 2017. It plans to replace traditional jeepneys which are 15 years old or older with modern, imported jeepneys which cost around Php 2.5 – 2.8 million (US$44,800 – 50,200) per unit. It is more than triple the price of ordinary jeepneys, which is around Php 600,000 to 800,000 (US$10,700 – 14,300).
The exorbitant amount needed to purchase a single modern jeepney is clearly unaffordable for the average jeepney driver who earns a meager P500 (US$8.92) daily income, which is reduced further by skyrocketing diesel prices in the Philippines. Meanwhile, the minimum fare is expected to increase up to P25 (US$0.45), almost double its current amount of P13 (US$0.23).
Thousands of jeepney drivers and operators decry the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB)’s December 31 deadline for application for franchise consolidation. Under franchise consolidation, the LTFRB will implement its so-called “one franchise, one route, one operator” scheme. Only corporations and cooperatives which own a minimum of 15 modern jeepney units will be allowed to operate a franchise. Drivers and operators who do not apply for consolidation will not be allowed to ply the roads starting January 1, 2024.
“Only big corporations and capitalists stand to benefit from this sham modernization program. It is an affront to the social and economic rights not only of the hundreds of thousands of drivers and operators, but also to the millions of Filipino commuters who rely every day on affordable transportation provided by jeepney drivers nationwide,” continued Murphy.
“The right to work and to freely choose one’s work for a living is enshrined in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR) of the United Nations. The Marcos Jr. government must be reminded that the Philippines is a signatory to this treaty.”
“The corporate capture of the Philippine public transportation sector is evident of the continued adherence to neoliberal policies by Marcos Jr. ICHRP supports the call of drivers and operators to junk the PUVMP, and instead push for a genuinely pro-people modernization program, by supporting the development of the local jeepney manufacturing industry,” concluded Murphy.
Further comment: Peter Murphy, ICHRP Chairperson, +61418312301