MANDAUE CITY, Cebu- The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON)-Cebu Chapter appealed to the governments of Mandaue City and Cebu City to allow the traditional public utility jeepneys to ply the city streets soon.
This as members of PISTON-Cebu staged a rally on Tuesday morning, November 17, 2020, in front of the Department of Agriculture Central Visayas (DA-7) office in Mandaue City.
Ronilo Gahator, PISTON-Cebu vice-chairman, said that jeepney drivers have been struggling to survive as they have had no income since operations were ordered suspended at the onset of the lockdowns brought about by the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) last March.
It has been eight months since the jeepneys stopped their operation because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nag suffer na ta sa walo ka buwan nga wala nakabiyahe,” Gahator said.
(We have been suffering for eight months without being able to operate.)
The group also appealed to the Mandaue City government to make them undergo free swab testing and allow them to resume operations without requiring them to pay first the fines for traffic violations.
“Karon, wala gyuy ikabayad ato’ng drivers. Wala man gani isulod as kaldero,” Gahator said.
(Our drivers have nothing to pay the fines. They even don’t have enough to put food on the table.)
One of the requirements the governments of the tri-cities of Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Mandaue City are asking from jeepney drivers applying for special permits to operate is the payment of penalites for traffic violations committed pre pandemic.
Lawyer John Eddu Ibañez, executive secretary of Mayor Jonas Cortes, assured drivers that the swab testing will be free of charge.
“With regards to the swab [testing], wala tay problema kay naay daghan libre swabbing. Wala nay kabalak-an ato’ng drivers kay dili nato sila pabaryun,” Ibañez said.
(With regards to the swab testing, there’s no problem because there are a lot of free swabbing. Our drivers don’t have to worry because we won’t let them pay.)
But the issue regarding the payment of fines will have to stick.
Krizzy Hyll Retuya, chief of staff of city councilor Jimmy Lumapas, the chairman of the Committee on Transportation in Mandaue City, said that the city will not waive the penalties for traffic violations committed by the drivers as it was already decided by the tri-cities.
“If we grant their request, it will be unfair to other drivers because the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu requires drivers to pay the penalties,” Retuya said.