When jeepney drivers cross the line

OPINION
By SUSAN PALMES-DENNIS
January 21, 2020

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BY the time this column sees print, we may only have a few more days left before we enter February, the second month of the year and this means I only have a few more days left to spend with family before heading back to the US.

Suffice it to say that I have enjoyed my time back home in Cagayan de Oro City and nearby Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental and God willing, I pray that my husband Ronnie and I don’t encounter any last minute inconveniences or anything major that may happen in the remaining days of my vacation in this City of Golden Friendship.

It’s a lot more worrisome in Luzon, where Taal Volcano is supposed to erupt any time soon.  In fact based on my monitoring, the canceled flights heading to Manila may or may not impact on my scheduled trip back to the US and I may have to do some last minute re-scheduling which I hope not to do.

At any rate, it’s been quite a treat meeting old and new friends, spending quality time with my family and grandchildren and touching base with old media colleagues from way back.  It’s especially nice spending Christmas and New Year here in Cagayan de Oro City even with the occasional ground ‘hiccup’ or quake that rattled the nerves.

Aside from former media colleagues, I also chatted and spent time with old classmates—an alumni homecoming at the St. Mary’s Academy of Tagoloan town—at the and old co-workers at the local judiciary where I spent my early professional career before venturing into the local mainstream media.  Good times to say the least.

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Last week, I did talk about in passing the confrontation between drivers of the modernized public utility vehicles (PUVs) that serviced commuters heading to and out of Bugo and the drivers of the decrepit, aging passenger jeepneys who felt threatened by their competition.

Based on what I read online, the passenger jeepney drivers were supposedly angry enough to demand that passengers get off the modern air-conditioned passenger vehicles and transfer to their aging, decrepit units.  As to how the passengers reacted, your guess is as good as mine.

Suffice it to say that there was no violence other than the angry outbursts typical of any heated confrontation between conflicting parties that if left unchecked would border close to the edge of something a bit more dangerous which nobody especially the passengers want or need.

While I am grateful that I can either ride a taxi or have Ronnie drive me around, even if driving in the city’s streets ticks him off to no end,  I can still remember my days riding jeepneys especially during my youth in Tagoloan town or even during my mainstream media days.

And if in my old age I would still be riding jeepneys I just might, just might be confronting those jeepney drivers who demanded those passengers of modernized passenger vehicles to get off and transfer to their old, smoke-belching jeepneys without any legal, moral or what have you grounds to justify such outrage.

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The owner of these modernized passenger vehicles, a cooperative, said they are willing to dialogue with these drivers but these drivers have yet to show their faces much less signify their willingness and objectivity to accept said invite for a dialogue preferably mediated by both City Hall and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

But should these drivers show up and make a scene again, and bully the passengers into transferring to their jeepneys, then they will invite not only legal action but public antagonism for their stubborn refusal to comply with the government’s modernized public utility vehicle (MPUV) program.

Last I heard the commuters who rode these modernized passenger vehicles have not been complaining about anything and have in fact enjoyed riding them.  Would the drivers and operators of these decrepit, smoke-belching jeepneys deprive said commuters of this convenience just so they can earn money from their expense?

A dialogue is in order and based on my reading the riding public is open to having better passenger vehicles plying Cagayan de Oro City’s streets than the ones they have been riding on for all these years.  I hope this will be but the first step towards modernizing mass transport here in the city.


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