Resist the anti-poor jeepney modernization and neoliberal agenda of Marcos Jr
The National Democratic Front (NDF)-Negros lauds the efforts of drivers and small operators in Bacolod City to confront the sham and anti-poor “jeepney modernization program” that is a neoliberal scheme to allow the privatization and monopolization of the transport sector. Through transport strikes and protests they were able to raise the awareness of Negrosanons and gather support against the transport monopolization program of the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) dutifully implemented by the US-Marcos II regime.
The current Marcos regime is abandoning thousands of drivers and small operators in forcing them into losing their livelihoods and is depriving the riding public of cheap transportation. According to recent data of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), only 23 percent or 540 of the 2,313 traditional jeepneys in Bacolod have ‘consolidated,’ which means a vast majority of them are bound to be disenfranchised and thus affecting almost two thousand families.
Marcos Jr has callously dismissed the successive nationwide jeepney strikes as only a ‘minority’ who are against the franchise consolidation, when in fact the solidarity shown by various sectors and its burdensome effect on Filipinos’ daily lives reveal otherwise. At the whim of imperialism, especially the WB and the ADB, the reactionary government is poised to insist on another neoliberal agenda of handing over the public transportation sector to the hands of foreign corporations in connivance with big compradors and bureaucrat capitalists.
The Marcos regime promotes the dominance of foreign companies over public utilities, including transportation. Old surplus vehicles from Japan, Korea and even China, packaged as ‘modern jeepneys,’ are being dumped in the Philippines to continue profits for foreign monopoly transport corporations. Due to the excessive prices, poor drivers and operators are either forced out of their livelihoods or further exploited in ‘franchises’ that are bound to control their wages and earnings, and minimum fares.
In Negros Island, the socioeconomic crisis forces farmers and farm workers from the countryside to search for odd jobs likely in the construction and transportation sector in the cities in the hopes of supporting their families only to experience another kind of oppression and exploitation. They barely even make the minimum wage far from the family living wage of Php996 in Western Visayas and Php1,253 in Central Visayas.
On top of the bogus jeepney modernization program, the reactionary government fails to address the absence of genuine land reform and national industrialization. The NDFP’s Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) tackled these very problems in the peace talks so despised by the previous Duterte regime.
Instead of solving the transport crisis, jeepney phaseout will only cause further problems for the Filipino people along with the continuous rise of oil prices and basic commodities, joblessness, perennial poverty and hunger, landlessness, lack of social services especially health and education, and militarization, among others.
Ultimately, ending the imperialist domination of Philippine economy through a national democratic revolution is the only means to truly achieve national liberation that will end the oppression and exploitation of the Filipino people, including drivers and small operators. ###