By Minka Klaudia Tiangco

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said he is in favor of the resumption of jeepney operations during the general community quarantine (GCQ), as this will help around 3,000 displaced drivers in the city earn a living.

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Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso
(Manila City Public Information Office / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Etong mga jeepney driver, hanggang ngayon walang biyahe pa rin. Mula February pa ‘ata. Walang kita mga jeepney driver ngayon. Hirap na hirap (These jeepney drivers, up to now, they are not allowed to take passengers. Since February, I think. The jeepney drivers don’t have earnings now. They are struggling),” he said in his city address Wednesday night (June 10).

“Kung ako ay matatanong, sa gitna ng meeting o pulong, umasa kayo na ang magiging sagot ko ay positibo, na kayo’y dapat makapag-hanapbuhay na dahil talagang mahirap na mahirap ang buhay ngayon (If I will be asked in the middle of a meeting, rest assured that my answer will be positive, that you should be allowed to work, because life is very hard right now),” he added.

However, the Manila mayor pointed out that it is up to the national government to decide whether jeepney drivers should be allowed back on the streets.

According to guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), jeepneys are the only type of public transport vehicles still prohibited from operating during the community quarantine.

Government officials said this is because physical distancing measures may not be properly observed inside jeepneys, leading to the further spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Some displaced jeepney drivers have turned to begging on the streets for money to buy food and other necessities.

Domagoso announced that the Manila city government distributed the second wave of relief packs for jeepney drivers, about three weeks after their first relief pack distribution.

He said 1,303 displaced jeepney drivers on Wednesday each received 50 kilos of rice, canned goods, toothpaste, toothbrush, and a bucket. These were delivered to their doorsteps by members of the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau (MTPB).

Around 2,000 more drivers will receive relief packs in the coming days, the city mayor said.

Meanwhile, the local chief executive reiterated his warning that they will continue to impound the vehicles of tricycle and pedicab drivers who continue to violate MTPB guidelines.

Domagoso said some drivers were caught printing altered MTPB advisories, indicating that two passengers are allowed inside the vehicle. But the said bureau earlier announced that only one passenger should be allowed to ride the vehicle.

“Anong gusto niyo, walang kita o may kita kahit papaano? ‘Yan ang tanong ko sa inyong lahat. Kasi, ang totoo, pwede naman kayong ipagbawal pa. Naawa lang ako sa inyo… at naaawa din ako sa mga taong walang masakyan (What do you want, to not earn anything, or to earn even a little bit? That is my question to all of you. The truth is, I could ban you from operating. But I took pity on you and those who could not get a ride),” he said.

“‘Yung pagmamahal at pagmamalasakit na pinapakita sa inyo ng pamahalaang lungsod, huwag naman natin aabusuhin na gagamitin nating pang-abuso sa kapwa natin mahirap. Hindi ‘yon makatarungan (Do not abuse the love and care shown to you by the city government, which, in turn, you will use to abuse your fellow residents who are poor. That’s not fair),” he added.

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