Duterte’s strong push for the jeepney phaseout, corporatization of public transport and implementation of an anti-poor tax reform law are the culprits for worsening commuter woes, according to youth group Anakbayan.

“Duterte is ultimately to be blamed for brewing a crisis in the transport sector. Instead of championing the welfare of the masses, he instead submitted to the whims of his fellow oligarchs and imperialist masters,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairperson.

Following an outburst of social media posts from inconvenienced commuters complaining about the less number of jeepneys plying major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, Anakbayan slammed the Duterte government for its intensified campaign against public utility vehicles (PUVs) in line with its jeepney modernization program, comparing it to a crackdown to covertly implement a jeepney phaseout.

“The anti-poor Duterte government seems not contented in burdening the Filipino people with oil price hikes and impending fare increase due to the TRAIN Law. It is hell-bent in privatizing public transport and robbing drivers of their livelihood and commuters of an affordable mode of transportation,” Crisostomo added.

Over the week, the Interagency Council on Traffic (I-ACT) implemented the “Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok” program to allegedly check the roadworthiness of PUVs. Jeepneys are apprehended for inspection of headlights, signal lights, tires, and mufflers, among others, and those who fail the roadworthiness check are told to pay fines as high as P5,000 and attend hearings, or otherwise face possible non-renewal of franchise. This prompted some jeepney drivers and operators to cease operation, causing many commuters to be stranded.

“The Duterte regime is keen on getting rid of ageing jeepneys in favor of the expensive e-jeepney alternative, virtually allowing only big businessmen and corporations to operate in the transport sector. This is all part of the administration’s neoliberal agenda of handing over public services to the private sector to ensure the profit of local oligarchs and foreign capitalists,” Crisostomo said.

In line with this, Crisostomo called on the Filipino youth to stand for a mass-oriented transport system and oppose the Duterte regime’s further oppression of the Filipino people. He also affirmed Anakbayan’s support to PISTON’s nationwide transport strike slated on January 24. #


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