By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – Several traditional jeepney drivers paraded their vehicles in front of the Fountain of Justice along Araneta Street here yesterday, to continue their protest against the consolidation and phasing out of traditional jeepneys.
Police Major Elmer Bonilla, head of Police Station 1, said the protest action somehow caused traffic congestion, but it was manageable as policemen and traffic enforcers were deployed to ensure order in the area.
Bonilla said the protesters occupied two lanes as they parked their jeepneys in front of the Old City Hall, while a program was being held around noontime which lasted about two hours.
The protest was led by the Bacolod Alliance for Commuters Operators and Drivers (Bacod)-Negros. The group said that they would not back down in their fight for a five-year franchise.
The group is hoping that the people, government officials, and the President will hear them out.
Some protesters went up their vehicles as they aired out their sentiments to the government while holding placards opposing the modernization program.
Later that day, Bacod Manibela also held a rally and candle-lighting at the Fountain of Justice.
Rudy Catedral, Bacod president, said that they will continue to oppose the government’s plan to enter the modernization program for the transport sector, as it will greatly affect the riding public and the livelihood of the traditional jeepney drivers and operators.
Catedral said they are open to the improvement or rehabilitation of jeepneys, but not to totally phase out the traditional jeepney units.
Catedral is asking for the understanding of the public for the insufficiency of jeepneys on roads, as some of them join the call of the local transport groups.
“Ginahimo ini namon para man sa aton tanan,” he said.
Catedral said that their protest action is part of the simultaneous rally of transport groups nationwide.
Earlier, Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said that he asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to allow traditional jeepneys to operate here after the December 31 deadline lapsed.
The local government submitted a letter of intent to the LTFRB to allow jeepneys to continue to operate with provisional authorities while they are addressing the consolidation process required under the modernization program.
Based on the LTFRB records, only 23 percent or 540 out of 2,313 traditional jeepneys here have consolidated into a cooperative or corporation.
The provisional authority for traditional jeepneys was extended until January 31, 2024.
A similar protest action was also mounted in Iloilo City by transport groups that oppose the modernization of the public transport sector which requires the phaseout of old jeepneys and consolidation of jeepney operators under cooperatives or corporations.
The consolidation is now a requirement for the operators’ franchise from the government.