Lacson urges DOTr to subsidize ‘Libreng Sakay’ for traditional jeepneys, too

Lacson urges DOTr to subsidize ‘Libreng Sakay’ for traditional jeepneys, too

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Partido Reporma chairman and standard-bearer Panfilo “Ping”
Lacson has called for the inclusion of traditional jeepneys into the
‘Libreng Sakay’ (free ride) program of the Department of
Transportation (DOTr) for essential workers amid the continuing
COVID-19 pandemic.

Lacson broached the idea during his consultation meeting with members
of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the
Philippines (FEJODAP) Calabarzon chapter in Lipa City, Batangas on
Tuesday (October 26, 2021).

According to the transport leaders Lacson had spoken to, the
state-funded free transportation services affected the income of some
traditional jeepney drivers since more passengers decided to take only
public buses and modern jeepneys that are included in the program.

“‘Yung libreng sakay ng bus, na sabi niyo nga lalong nagpapahirap sa
jeepney kasi walang sasakay [dahil] sa libreng sakay, bakit hindi
gamitin ‘yung libreng sakay sa jeepney na i-su-subsidize ng gobyerno?”
Lacson said in his speech.

(The free rides in public buses, which you said also burdened some
jeepney drivers because it took away some of your passengers, why
don’t we use that ‘Libreng Sakay’ for traditional jeepneys as well to
be subsidized by the government?)

Lacson said incorporating traditional jeepneys into the ‘Libreng
Sakay’ program is possible since they have allocated a P5.58-billion
budget to aid low-income families, including public utility vehicle
(PUV) drivers, under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or the
Bayanihan II.

The presidential aspirant mentioned that he and his running mate
Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III have been closely monitoring
the implementation of Bayanihan II to prevent cases of unequal
distribution of assistance again, especially among the PUV drivers.

Lacson, meanwhile, also told the FEJODAP members that he would revisit
their concerns over the jeepney modernization plans of the government
as many traditional jeepney drivers and operators remain unprepared
for its full implementation.

The incumbent senator said this issue has already been brought to his
attention by former FEJODAP national president Zenaida Maranan before
she passed away last year, which actually led to some lawmakers
questioning the viability of the program as well.

“Natingnan namin talagang hindi viable. Hindi uubra kasi hindi
preparado. Dapat bago ka gagawa ng pagpapalit, dapat meron kang
paghahanda. Ihahanda mo muna ‘yung mga tao sa ground kung kakayanin ba
nila… Mukhang hindi nagawa ‘yon,” Lacson said of the program.

(We have looked into it and figured it is really not viable. It will
not work because you are not prepared. Before you change things, you
have to be ready. You have to prepare the people on the ground and see
if they can take it… I don’t think they [DOTr] were able to do that.)

“So, ito, talagang tinutulan namin. Pero unti-unti, ‘di ba,
pinapatupad nila pero hindi talaga nila maipatupad completely o fully
kasi ang daming problema. Ang daming isyu na hindi na-resolve,” he
added.

(So, we also opposed the program. While they slowly tried to implement
it, they cannot enforce it completely or fully because it encountered
a lot of problems. There are so many issues that remain unresolved.)

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