EDSA Carousel drivers decry delayed salary, dismissal from work

·Contributor
·2 min read
A man wearing a face mask and face shield walks past signage pointing to the bus stop of the point-to-point EDSA Carousel bus system Thursday, 29 July 2021 in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, Philippines. The Department of Health has declared local community transmission of the more infectious 'Delta' variant of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as more cases are detected, though it has denied so far a third surge is underway. (Photo by Richard James Mendoza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man wearing a face mask and face shield walks past signage pointing to the bus stop of the point-to-point EDSA Carousel bus system Thursday, 29 July 2021 in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, Philippines. The Department of Health has declared local community transmission of the more infectious 'Delta' variant of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as more cases are detected, though it has denied so far a third surge is underway. (Photo by Richard James Mendoza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Bus drivers of EDSA Carousel, which has been giving free rides to commuters under the Department of Transportation (DOTr), are yet to receive their salary, and have been removed from their jobs after calling on the government and companies for proper compensation in February.

Sa ginawa po naming pag-iingay nung Pebrero, tinanggal po kami sa trabaho. Gusto lang po namin mabayaran. (We were removed from our jobs because we protested last February. We just want to get paid,” Joji Vizconde, one of the bus drivers, said in a press conference on Friday (April 29).

Vizconde further said that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has been giving out reasons such as data privacy when the drivers request documents regarding their compensation.

He also slammed LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III after the official claimed that the transport workers have been paid.

Tapat po kaming naglilingkod pero sa pakikipaglaban namin sa mga karapatan namin, tinanggal pa po kami sa trabaho. (We are earnestly serving [the public], but we were removed from our jobs when we finally fought for our rights),” the driver said.

Rodel Abcede, another bus driver and secretary of ES Transport union said that of the funds allocated for the free rides, only 30% were given to conductors and drivers.

Sa 100% pong pondo ng Libreng Sakay, 70% po ang operator sa operator sa pangmaintenance. 30% lang po ang napupunta sa aming konduktor at drayber. Pero 23% lang po ang nakukuha namin at binabawas pa dun yung pangkrudo,” Abcede noted.

(Of the 100% Free Ride fund, 70% goes to the operator for maintenance. Only 30% goes to us conductors and drivers. But we only get 23% as fuel is still deducted.)

In February, the group of bus drivers held a protest rally on EDSA, saying that their salaries, pegged at a total of P20 million, have been delayed since 2021. The group alleged that the government has been in cahoots with bus operators.

In response, the LTFRB denied the accusations and said that it has already released funds for the salaries of the drivers and conductors.

According to LTFRB executive director Maria Kristina Cassion, they have already released P672.69 million to bus operator ES Consortium.

Meanwhile, ES Consortium said they are in the middle of a "mediation process" with the affected drivers and conductors, which the drivers have repeatedly denounced.

The carousel free rides are part of the government's Service Contracting Program where PUV operators and drivers are supposed to be paid for the number of trips they make per week.

According to the DOTr, the program was given a P7-billion budget under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2022.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom.

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