Jeepney drivers and operators are at dire risk of losing their livelihoods.
For the past few months, the Philippines saw an overwhelming number of Filipino Jeepney drivers and operators calling for an immediate halt to the unjust implementation of the Public Utility Vehicles Modernization Program (PUVMP) under the Department of Transportation Order 2017-011 and LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2023-013.
The government has been pushing for a forced consolidation of Jeepneys and set the deadline on December 31, 2023 despite the vehement protests from drivers and operators. This move effectively coerces individuals to surrender their franchise rights, disproportionately impacting those who cannot afford the exorbitant costs of modernization, thus risking their very livelihoods.
PUVMP’s Impact on Jeepney Drivers, Operators and the Filipino People
The financial burden imposed by the modernization program, with modern Jeepneys priced at over PHP 2 million, is an unfair and unrealistic expectation for drivers and operators who earn an average of just PHP 2,000 (35 USD/49 CAD) per day. This stark contrast in costs places an overwhelming strain on the marginalized and vulnerable sector, further widening the gap of inequity.
It is evident that the PUVMP caters more to the interests of big business owners, as only those with substantial financial capacity can comply with the requirements, while traditional Jeepney drivers and operators, who provide an essential public service, are left to bear the brunt of this unjust policy.
According to data from the Department of Transportation, 74% of PUJs and 66% of UV Express in NCR have not yet been consolidated. This is equivalent to 30,862 Jeepney units and 4,852 UVE units that will no longer be able to travel after December 31. Nationwide, 64,639 jeeps will no longer be able to travel. If for every jeep there are three people making a living (one operator and two drivers), this is equivalent to approximately 193,917 drivers and operators who will lose their livelihood. Add to this the affected livelihoods such as vulcanizing, vendors, Karinderyas, and others. There will also be a severe transportation crisis that will affect all of Filipino people.
Cultural Significance of Jeepneys
From American remnants of World War II, jeeps or Public Utility Jeepneys have now become a cultural icon and an affordable and essential form of public transportation for more than 40% of commuters in Metro Manila and many provinces. Dubbed as the "hari ng kalsada" (king of the road), jeepneys take you where you need to go (and where limited transportation options don't go) with camp designs depicting family members beside religious icons or basketball players, nature's scenes, and even anime.
Many Filipinos in the diasporia often use the imagery and fonts of Jeepneys to reconnect with our culture and express our identity. Therefore, it's crucial for us to understand the challenges faced by drivers and operators in the Philippines and stand in solidarity with them.
As an apparel line that has used and represented the images and art of Jeepneys through our designs and content, Pinay Collection wholeheartedly stands in solidarity with striking Jeepney drivers and operators. We stand against this deceptive modernization program and the corporate takeover of PUV routes, which only serves to benefit the business elite at the expense of the poor and marginalized.
We demand a fair and inclusive transition that genuinely considers the welfare and livelihoods of the poor and marginalized, and we vow to amplify our efforts in advocating for the rights of Jeepney drivers and operators in the face of this unjust policy.
There should be no space for policies that further burden the poor and marginalized in our society. We will continue to stand with the affected drivers and operators in their struggle for just and equitable policies that uphold their rights and livelihoods.
We fully support the ongoing transport strikes and call on the Filipino people across the globe to stand in solidarity with the affected drivers and operators. Join us in supporting PISTON, a labour union of drivers and operators in the Philippines, by following and amplifying their work. You may also offer donations to support the livelihood of those in the picket line through PayPal at @crnicoyco or DM us to contribute towards the funds that we are donating. We also commit to donating 100% of our merch sales from Manila Middle Ground from October 2023 to March 2024 to PISTON.
Updated sources and additional resources
- Briefer: Addressing mitigation measures in public transport in the Philippines & recommendations for a pro-people just transition, by Piston PH, Nov 8, 2023
- Article: DoTR doesn't Want to Admit that Jeepney Fare Hikes are Coming, by IBON Foundation, Jan 7, 2024
- Article: Gov't denies Job Loss, Higher Fares Even as Only Half of Jeepneys in NCR consolidate, by Rappler, Jan 5, 2024
- Article: Climate Targets can be Achieved without Franchise Consolidation, by Piston PH, Jan 17, 2024
- Article: Explainer: Why Some Transport Groups Support Jeepney Modernization, by Rappler, Mar 14, 2023
- Media: Mayday Multimedia, Amplifying Voices of Filipino Transit Workers
- Statement: Joint Statement Against the PUV Modernization Program, by Panatang Luntian Coalition, PARA - Advocates for Inclusive Transport (PARA), and Inclusive Cities Advocacy Network (ICAN), Nov 18, 2023
Contributors: Carla Nicoyco and Jovie Galit, Updated by January 20, 2024