The coronavirus lockdown has affected several sectors in the Philippines. In fact, the country’s unemployment rate for April has surged to 17.7%, the highest on record, as more Filipinos lose their jobs due to the pandemic.
One of the most severely affected sectors is the country’s public transport. Up until today, as the country eases lockdown restrictions, it is still unsure when most jeepney drivers can go back on the road. (READ: Here are the updated routes of free shuttle services around Metro Manila)
Jeepney drivers have not earned anything since the government put the country under the Enhanced Community Quarantine almost three months ago. Mass transportation was suspended to curb the spread of COVID-19.
On June 1, Metro Manila and a lot of other regions have eased quarantine measures but jeepneys have not been allowed to return to the roads just yet. (READ: Here’s what you need to know about the MMDA’s modified coding scheme)
Petitions to Operate
In solidarity with the plight of jeepney drivers, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS) has called on the government to allow the operations of jeepney drivers who’ve had no income for months. He said that thousands of drivers were left with no sources of livelihood since the lockdown was put in place.
“Even before the pandemic, jeepney drivers and their families were already in difficult economic situations. And now, the situation even worsens,” Bishop Alminaza said. (Read: Gubat QC Hires Tricycle Drivers To Deliver Food Amid Quarantine)
Bishop Alimanza stressed that the resumption of jeepney operations will not only revive these drivers’ livelihood but will also provide transport services to frontliners and workers. He also appealed to the immediate release of cash aid to the drivers, as many of them are still waiting for the government’s ayuda for more than two months now. (Read: LGUs are now turning to local farmers for healthier relief goods)
In allowing jeepney drivers back to work, Bishop Alimanza stressed the importance of mass testing “to ensure their safety and the commuting public”.
Help for our manong drivers
As of writing, traditional jeepneys fall in the lower tier of the government’s priorities in granting special permits to operate in their respective cities. Buses, UV express, and modern jeepneys rank higher.
To help jeepney drivers who have had no income for almost 3 months now, transport group Piston is accepting donations of the following items: surgical masks, hand soap, medicine, baby diapers, rubbing alcohol, canned goods, rice, and instant noodles. (Read: UP-PGH Launches Hotline for COVID-19 Patients and Donors)
Donations may be dropped off at Balai Obrero Foundation, 63 Narra Street, Barangay Claro, Project 3, Quezon City. Donors may coordinate with Nedy Gonzaga through 09208580754.
Piston is also accepting cash donations to help the affected families of jeepney drivers. Interested donors may deposit to the following account:
Piston Land Transport Coalition
For more details, may contact Cely Floranda at 0929 296 6099.