ILOILO CITY – Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) strongly opposed the 1-seat-apart or the 1-meter physical distancing being implemented in Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJ).
According to the group, this policy of the the Duterte administration, through its agencies DOTr, LTFRB, and LTO, is anti-driver and anti-poor because it will greatly affect the drivers and even poor passengers.
According to Edgar Salarda, president of PISTON-Panay, this will be an additional agony to the drivers since the number of passengers will again be reduced from eleven (11) to seven (7). The reduction of four (4) passengers is equivalent to PHP 36, that is why for every ten (10) rounds of trip, a driver can loss up to PHP 360 from its income.
The group added that since the imposition of lockdown, drivers have already suffered a lot, which resulted to inability of the 70% of the drivers to ply. Meanwhile, the remaining 30% only earn PHP 250 for their trip, three times in a week .
The group also believes that these anti-driver policies of Duterte will eventually lead to phaseout because the entry of Ceres busses as a substitute for PUJs has long been pushed, just like what happened during the earlier months of lockdown where Ceres busses were the only ones authorized to ply around the city.
Salarda added that fare increase is not an answer since it will now put the burden to the passengers, whom, majority are workers and are experiencing hunger because of insufficient wages.
In a statement, PISTON believes that the 1-meter distancing in PUJs will not prevent the spread of COVID-19 but the strong healthcare system of the country will. Moreover, it would have been easier to curb the pandemic if the policies implemented by various agencies of the Duterte administration had not been chaotic and unorganized./PT