THE Cebu City Jeepney Task Force has extended until Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, the registration for drivers who want to earn a living again by driving traditional public utility jeepneys.
This was the announcement made by City Councilor James Cuenco, who was appointed by Mayor Edgardo Labella to lead the task force formed to enable thousands of drivers to go back to their main source of income amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cuenco said the task force decided to extend the deadline for registration after several drivers requested for it because most of them had failed to register on the original deadline last Friday, Nov. 6.
The councilor said the City has decided to stop the testing for Covid-19 for this week. This will return next week with the Department of Health 7 at the helm, and the agency will conduct pooled testing.
Also happening next week is the continuation of the inspection on the condition of traditional jeepneys of the drivers who were included in the second and third batches.
Cuenco said after the pool testing and checking of jeepneys’ roadworthiness, the drivers who pass both tests can obtain their permits; however, they will be deployed to the streets by batch so as not to overwhelm traffic.
The Cebu City Jeepney Task Force has listed 1,200 drivers. Some of the drivers went back to their hometowns in Cebu Province when Covid-19 cases surged in Cebu City.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 has initially allowed 1,720 traditional public utility jeepneys to travel in Cebu City as buses are having a hard time accommodating the increasing volume of passengers mostly working in recently reopened businesses.
Cebu City and the entire Cebu Province are under modified general community quarantine, which has eased public movement and allowed the resumption of businesses.
In Mandaue City, the request of the traditional jeepney drivers who have pending penalties cannot be granted by Mayor Jonas Cortes. This can only be granted by passing an ordinance, which is the City Council’s duty.
The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) has appealed for a moratorium on drivers’ unsettled accounts and penalties for the traffic violations they had committed before the Covid-19 pandemic.
John Eddu Ibañez, a lawyer and executive secretary to the mayor, said it is beyond the mayor’s functions to give a moratorium on the payment of the penalties of the drivers.
However, Ibañez said he learned during his talks with his fellow lawyers—Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue executive director Jamaal Calipayan and City Treasurer Regal Oliva—that these penalties were meted against erring drivers way before the pandemic.
Ibañez said penalties are imposed to prevent drivers from committing traffic violations in the future.
Most traffic violators in Mandaue City are not compliant in paying the fines stated in the citation tickets as their licenses are not confiscated; the fines eventually pile up, making it hard for the drivers to pay, Ibañez said.
The common traffic violations committed by jeepney drivers are loading and unloading of passengers in no-stopping areas, obstructing the streets, parking in no-parking spaces and beating the red light.
In 2019, the City Treasurer’s Office collected P20 million from the traffic violations’ penalties. (PAC / KAL / KFD)