The continuous price hike has continuously tormented Benguet public utility vehicles’ drivers economically.
Aside from the effect of the pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine war on the world market, the price of oil and gas has continuously been on hike. Before the pandemic, the price range would be in between PhP 40-50 per liter, however, it rose to PhP 65-68 per liter during the 12x oil price hike in 2022. The highest toll reached PhP 88-92 per liter.
The oil price hike is inevitable as it depends on the world market especially that the Middle East is the one currently supplying the Philippines.
“Iti pangalalaan ti agsuplay nga kompanya tatta ket Middle East santo sabali ikasta da tatta nga agilako ta by bidding… so the higher bidder wins,” claimed Leonardo Luncio Baguio Tomay Jeepney Operators and Association (BATJODA) Multipurpose Cooperative Board Secretary.
In addition, for the countries that need oil, they have no choice but to participate in the bidding process unless they have sufficient oil reserves.
Locally, La Trinidad jeepney drivers have been the direct affected consumers from the oil price hike earning meagre salaries per day especially now that the required seating capacity has been reduced to 14 from 22 during the onslaught pandemic until the early months of 2022.
Moreover, during the lockdown, jeepney drivers had stopped operating due to the IATF guidelines on travel restrictions. Eventually, when the restrictions ease, transport mobility was scheduled alternately at least three days per week.
This leads to insufficiency in the required quota per day as they will be forced to back-up the shortage and affect their take home labor per day.
“Ada maalala mi idi (before pandemic); tatta, ket pulos limitado paylang tugawan ken awan pasaheros nga mailugan. Nangina pay krudo,” shared Jay-R Legasi, jeepney driver.
Jeepney drivers demand for a fare price hike as the price of oils and unit parts are expensive.
“Ti kinaagpayso na, PhP 35 ti krudo idi PhP 8.50 ti short trip. Tatta nga PhP 68, PhP 9 ti short trip salapi lang ti nainayon ket nanginngina pay ti piyesa ti lugan mano lang diay aramiden diay salapi nga halos nagdoble diay price,” explained Legasi on associating prices of oil to the fare.
Jeepney drivers understand the fluctuating oil prices; however, there should be a strategy to balance both the passengers and drivers’ consumer uptake so that it will not affect only the drivers especially this pandemic.
Jeepney drivers are not in favor of the jeepney phase out as long as the unit is in good condition and presentable. This will just leave the drivers in debt if they will buy new units and will hardly pay the unit until the next phase out which is every 15 years.
“Haan da kuma tuluyen ti modernization, isimpa lang ti lugan kasla kuma change chassis, change motor, change makina nga bulok,” expressed Legasi.
On the other hand, jeepney drivers receive help from the government through the oil subsidy program spearheaded by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board . To date, around 87,500 jeepney drivers in the country received the subsidy with PhP 6,500.
By Karen Joy Gayang