For once, I agree with Greg Perez, chairman of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) Cebu chapter.
Perez has appealed to the Mandaue City Government not to require drivers of traditional public utility jeepneys to settle their fines for traffic violations first before allowing them to resume operations.
Apparently, the City Planning and Development Office is thinking of adopting the recommendation of City Attorney Nenita Layese to do just this.
I mean, Layese has a point. The drivers committed a violation and they should pay for it. The City should hold them responsible for their actions. Otherwise, they won’t take the matter seriously.
Under normal circumstances, I would agree. But we are in the middle of an ongoing pandemic. The economy is only starting to pick up after the world’s longest lockdown to try and contain the coronavirus. Many are only beginning to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
It has been eight months since traditional jeepney drivers were deprived of their livelihood. The authorities had no choice but to ban traditional jeepneys from the streets because their setup was conducive to transmission. It would have been a logistical nightmare had traditional jeepneys been allowed to ferry passengers, not that there were many to begin with.
At any rate, now that Metro Cebu and the rest of the province are under modified general community quarantine, the passengers are back.
I’m sure Perez and members of Piston Cebu chapter are raring to serve them.
It’s not like they’re asking the City to forget their fines. As Perez said, his drivers will pay. But, because many of them have little or no money to spare, they’re asking the City to allow them to do so in installments.
They still have to install barriers inside their units and they need to buy materials for this purpose, he said.
City Treasurer Regal Oliva pointed out that it wouldn’t matter one way or another if the City decided to impose a moratorium. The fines are there to stay.
Although I have to say they wouldn’t be in this predicament if they hadn’t broken traffic laws in the first place. Then again, it would be unfair to heap all the blame on them because they’re not alone in this regard. There were many other violators. How else was the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue able to collect around P20 million in penalties last year?
So I say, let Perez and his drivers have their way just this once. Let’s face it, they deserve a break.
After all, they have a much bigger problem looming in the horizon. For those of you who don’t know, it’s called the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.