Jeepney unity forum set on June 19

THE Social Action Center of the Diocese of Bacolod will hold a Unity Forum at 1 p.m. Monday, June 19, against the implementation of the Jeepney Modernization Order of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTr).

The unity forum, which will be attended by representatives of the transport sector, private schools, business sector, and inter-faith groups, will finalize plans on the holding of a prayer vigil until July 4.

“That would depend on the decision of the DOTr today,” said Diego Malacad, secretary-general of United Negros Drivers and Operators Center.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines will be signed today, June 19.

The modernization program seeks to phase out old and dilapidated jeepneys.

The government is pushing for the modernization of the country’s jeepneys to ensure the safety of public transportation because of the observation that old and dilapidated vehicles are the usual cause of road accidents.

“I got the information that the signing of the guidelines is set today. If the signing pushes through, we will immediately start the prayer vigil. When we held the transport strike on June 5, other transport groups did not join because they said the order will not be implemented. So what happened now? We were right with our moves,” Malacad said.

He said they will also finalize during the forum Monday the plan of filing a temporary restraining order in case the order will be signed on the same day.

Malacad said they are protesting the modernization program because the government failed to present alternatives and that it will result to unemployment as several drivers will lose their jobs because most of the operators would not be able to afford to acquire new vehicles based on the standards set by the DOTr.