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“Modernization” and Transport Strike

Jeepney Strike

Much unlike the government’s progressive railway transport projects with Japan as our partner, its jeepney “modernization” program looks awry.

The nation is cash-strapped but why the government is treating the public transport sector like our drivers and operators are overflowing with money enough for them to buy modern jeepneys in a way like the omnipotent Genie in Aladdin can be called to appear in split seconds to grant their wishes by rubbing an empty “kaldero”?

Who’s not dreaming of progress? Nobody. And who doesn’t want modernizing our public utility transport? Nobody. But do we have to achieve such a dream by giving nightmares to our PUV drivers? Not of course.

There is indeed a blindside to BBM’s otherwise wonderful jeepney modernization program. And it lies in the “phaseout” aspect. Let time, reason, fairness or empathy take its course and there would be no “tigil pasada” that our PUV drivers would need to resort to – for their voices to be heard and their hungering, aching stomachs to be considered. This is not communism. And please don’t give credence to the local communists and ascribe legitimacy to their armed struggle by red-tagging citizens who are simply airing their grievances in a democratic way.

What would happen to our people or drivers in between “modernization” and hunger? Money, not “cooperatives” is what our drivers need – to buy modern jeepneys – or food for their families. Do we have a benumb vending machine for a Land Transportation Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB) as an agency to serve the public transport sector?

In this connection, legal counsellors can only provide counsels that pertain to “legalities,” ordinarily indifferent to what is right and wrong, what is reasonable and not, what is moral and immoral, what is just and unjust, what is conscionable and unconscionable, what is human and inhuman, what is democratic and repressive. This is the downside (or irony) of life for many of those who are in the law profession.

Juan Ponce EnrilePresidential Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Implementor of Martial Law during the Marcos Sr. regime, Juan Ponce Enrile, has offered advice on the issue of the transport strike of drivers. He said in an interview, “They are abusing their right to assemble and seek redress of grievances. They are mandated to provide public service. Let them hold their protest action but the government should cancel their franchises.”

But, Sir, it has been four decades already since your former Commander-in-Chief lifted Martial Law.

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