Transport workers stopped operating due to rising fuel price: Senate panel

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QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES - 2022/06/09: Jeepney dispatcher sits at the hood of a moving jeepney while calling passengers. Many transport workers are no longer working due to the continued oil price increases. (Photo by Ryan Eduard Benaid/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES - 2022/06/09: Jeepney dispatcher sits at the hood of a moving jeepney while calling passengers. Many transport workers are no longer working due to the continued oil price increases. (Photo by Ryan Eduard Benaid/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

More and more transport workers are feeling the pain of the rising fuel prices as some 26,000 to 28,000 provincial bus workers have lost their jobs, the Senate Committee on Energy learned in a committee hearing on Tuesday (June 21).

Senator Win Gatchalian, the committee’s chairman, called for a consultative meeting to find out the effects on the transport sector of the rising fuel prices.

Alex Yague, the executive director of the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines, revealed that around 5,600 buses going in and out of Metro Manila have stopped operating, with only 20% to 30% of the total workforce of the sector remaining operational.

Sa provincial buses, hindi lang po driver, mayroon pa hong konduktor, mayroon pa ho kaming mga allied workers. ‘Yung mga nagtatrabaho sa terminal, mga dispatcher, ticket sellers, pati mekaniko na mine-maintain namin. So mayroon po kaming mga 45 employees per bus na kailangang i-maintain. So we’re talking of about … around 26,000 to 28,000 employees ang affected,” Yague told the Senators.

(In provincial buses, it’s not just drivers, but also conductors. We also have allied workers – dispatchers, ticket sellers, and mechanics that we maintain. So, we have a total of 45 employees per bus that we have to maintain. In total, we’re talking of about … 26,000 to 28,000 employees affected.)

Yague added that another burden they bear is the rise in toll fees, which increased by six percent.

There was also a dramatic decrease of taxicab drivers hitting the road. Quezon City Rep. Bong Suntay, also the president of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association, said that prior to the pandemic, there were about 27,000 units of taxis operating in Metro Manila. Now, some 12,000 had already stopped operating.

“Basically two drivers per unit on the part of the taxi [operators], so roughly nawalan tayo ng mga (we lost) – on the part of the taxi lang in Metro Manila – around 32,000 drivers,” said Suntay in the committee hearing.

Outside of Metro Manila, Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) Cebu coordinator Greg Perez that at least 50 public utility vehicles in the province have stopped operating, accounting for 10 percent of their total members of their province.

He said that due to the rising price of fuel, some drivers and operators just stayed home or went home to their hometown because they could no longer afford the price of fuel.

Meanwhile, Sen. Gatchalian is calling for the immediate implementation of the third tranche of fuel subsidy, and has urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to address the issues of delay in the service contracting program.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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