Marcos continues to ram jeepney phaseout
The Marcos government did not “postpone” and instead is ramming through the jeepney phaseout plan. This despite Marcos Jr’s promise made after the May transport strike to review the program. Nothing also came out from his promise to consult with drivers and operators who are instead being harassed by police.
In reality, the regime is reletentlessly maneuvering to accelerate the removal of traditional jeepneys from roads. In the provinces, this scheme takes on different names.
Foreign capitalists and big local compradors behind the jeepney phaseout want to turn the country into dumping ground of “electric vehicles” (EV), or vehicles powered by electricity (instead of gasoline) stored in batteries. Colluding with the reactionary state, they speak of “environmental-friendliness” and “climate change mitigation” to justify the massacre of livelihood of small drivers and operators.
Among the biggest bourgeois compradors involved in “modernization” are the Aboitiz family that released COMET buses, Ramon Ang (San Miguel Corporation) who will open a $500M EV battery plant in Dinagat Islands, and Ayala who partnered with Kia Motors for marketing imported electric vehicles.
Marcos signed Executive Order 12 last January to grant “tax breaks” or exempt EV importation from tariffs. These vehicles, supposedly “cleaner,” will be used to replace traditional jeepneys. This order is supported in the National EV Roadmap which is already being framed and implemented by the Department of Energy. Under this, foreign manufacturers can more freely and more openly sell EVs in the country.
Marcos is in collusion with imperialist countries and banks such as the World Bank (funded primarily by the US) and the Asian Development Bank (funded primarily by Japan) in implementing the pseudo modernization program in transportation. US imperialism is the main driver of this program in its push to claim a large share in the global electric vehicle market, alongside rising investments in “clean” energy production. In May, the US announced plans to invest $5 million in operations to extract minerals for the production of electric vehicles and other equipment.
The “pro-environment” stance of the Marcos regime and its foreign and local capitalist associates, who are, in fact, among the biggest environmental polluters, is utterly bogus. While investing in purportedly “clean energy,” Aboitiz and San Miguel also operate the largest “dirty energy” plants that produce 54% of the country’s entire carbon emissions.
Sideswiping jeepneys from roads
From the outset, drivers and operators have opposed the jeepney phaseout because this will massacre their source of livelihood through the “consolidation” of franchises and monopolization of jeepney and other public transport routes. In other areas, this is implemented under Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
In Davao City, the BRT is in full swing supported by Asian Development Bank. The ADB announced on June 29 its $1 billion loan for the implementation of the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project. It is preconditioned on the importation of 1,100 buses from Japan replacing traditional jeeps on the city streets. The ADB also required a reduction of routes from 120 to 30. The ADB plans also include building 1,000 bus stops to be operated primarily by corporations that will contract-hire drivers.
Not less than 7,000 drivers in Davao City will lose their livelihood. Almost 6,000 drivers will be left stranded with only 1,000 buses running under the project. Small operators will also lose their franchises because of their inability to form cooperatives or buy expensive modern buses.