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PUV modernization protest planned

BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

Commuters, labor advocates, small operators and drivers are flexing their muscles for a massive protest against the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program in Bacolod City.

General Alliance of Workers Association secretary general Wennie Sancho yesterday said this program is “anti-poor and anti-labor as it will drive the drivers and small jeepney operators towards poverty and unemployment.”

Sancho is one of the ad hoc committee members of the group called Alliance of Commuters and Transport Organizations (ACTO) which will soon finalize its plan of action for Bacolod City. The group will also file legal opposition against the implementation of this jeepney modernization scheme.

The government should have anticipated that “the phasing out of traditional jeepneys means phasing out also the means of livelihood” of hundreds of thousands of people who are directly dependent on the public transport industry, Sancho said.

“This program is an injustice imposed upon the drivers and small operators. It is forcing our drivers to go back to the streets like beggars. This will result to undeserved suffering for the drivers and unprecedented injuries to the small jeepney operators as this will cause economic dislocation of their families,” he said.

Sancho said one modern jeepney would cost millions of pesos which is more than ten times the current cost of a traditional jeepney. Compared to taxis and buses, which are owned by big companies, jeepneys are most often owned by low-income jeepney operators or drivers.

This program of jeepney modernization will attract more large companies, displace small operators and relegate drivers to low-wage earners, he said.

“It is this deep sense of injustice that had united us to form ACTO in the midst of economic recession to defend the transport workers,” Sancho added.*

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