Press Release
July 29, 2021

Hontiveros to Palace: Stop denying hardships of Filipino commuters

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday urged Malacanang to address head-on the plight of commuters instead of saying that their hardships and miseries are now a thing of the past.

"The President, in his recent State of the Nation Address, was glossing over the real-life difficulties of commuters, pero alam naman nating lahat na hindi yan ang totoong kalagayan ng mga mananakay," Hontiveros said.

"Paano ka gagawa ng solusyon if you keep on denying that there is something that needs to be fixed? In problem-solving, the first step is acknowledge that there really is a problem, at ganyan dapat ang ginagawa ng Malacanang. Hindi ang mag-sugar coat at magbuhat lang ng sariling bangko," she furthered.

Hontiveros said that the road transport expenses of ordinary Filipinos rose by nearly 20 percent during the imposition of quarantine lockdowns and that at least 70 percent of workers found it harder to go to and back from their offices during the pandemic due to limited public transport.

"Bago pa man ang pandemya, bugbog na ang mga pasahero. Ngayon, knockout na sila. Dahil limitado pa rin ang bumabyahe, mas mahal ang pamasahe sa special trip, at kung mamalasin, napakahaba pa ng pila bago makasakay. Kalbaryo lalo na kung umuulan. Subukan kaya nilang mag-commute para maranasan nila ang hirap," she said.

As of April, 25 percent of jeepneys were still not allowed to operate and those which are on the road are supposed to operate only at fifty percent seating capacity. This, according to Hontiveros, brings misery not just to the commuters who have to wait for hours and pay for higher fares, but also for the public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers as their incomes significantly decrease due to reduced seating capacity.

"Oo nga at nagbukas tayo ng mga daan upang mapabilis ang travel time, pero kung wala namang pampublikong sasakyan na papasada para mag-cater sa commuters, ano ang silbi nito? Kung wala sa daan ang congestion ay sa mahahabang pila mo ito makikita" Hontiveros stated.

"While road infrastructure is vital, an efficient and reliable public transport should be the priority so we can provide not just safety and comfort to passengers, but also incomes for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers lalo na ngayong pandemya," she added.

Hontiveros said that it is unacceptable that the P4 billion fund under Bayanihan 2 intended to subsidize bus and jeepney operations was only allowed to expire. She added that the remaining P3B budget under the 2021 funds will not suffice to cover one month's shortfall in PUV drivers' incomes due to required physical distancing.

She also pointed out that there are jeepney drivers who are on the verge of permanently losing their income source because they cannot afford the monthly amortization of modern jeepneys of the PUV modernization.

"Once and for all, stop invalidating the woes of our commuters and PUV drivers. Mas maraming Pinoy ang umaasa sa pampublikong transportasyon, kaya't kapakanan nila at ng ating drivers ang higit na dapat isaalang-alang," Hontiveros concluded.

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