Retired WWII surplus vehicles from the United States Army, also known as jeepneys, are the Filipino people’s primary mode of public transportation, an industry run by the people for the people.
The current situation:
Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s government, infamous for environmental destruction and riddled with bureaucrat capitalists, announced last year that they want to cut down carbon emissions by “modernising” the country’s public transport system and phasing out jeepneys. Instead of making manageable, incremental changes to make jeepneys more environmentally friendly, the government announced that drivers would have until January 31st to pay the hefty costs of purchasing a new vehicle and applying to a cooperative. Conveniently, the proposed modernization program will favour foreign manufacturers and those who can afford to purchase a new vehicle.
(Lack of) Environmental Concern:
As Anakbayan’s Toronto chapter highlighted in a recent statement on the jeepney strike, these public utility vehicles (PUVs) only comprise 2.2% of the total number of vehicles on the road. Blaming jeepneys for high emissions while destroying thousands of hectares of mangroves and farmland is typical of a government that weaponises climate change to attract foreign funding and loans.
Marcos Jr.’s government conveniently wants to replace jeepneys with imported e-buses that cost between $38,000-$55,000 CAD to purchase. To afford these, ordinary jeepney drivers, (who only earn an average of $16 CAD per day) would have to go into massive debt just to maintain their livelihoods. The proposed phaseout also risks putting commuters in positions where they have to pay higher fares.
These enforced changes only seek to benefit big corporations and foreign investors and exemplify a noticeable pattern of the Filipino government prioritizing capital gain at the expense of the people, forcing migration and placing working-class people into precarious and dangerous situations. With forced migration comes cheap labour for Canada, which denies hundreds of thousands of migrants status, healthcare, and housing, while capitalizing off their exploitation. Once again, we see imperial powers collaborating and benefitting from the exploitation and suffering of the people.
Canada-Philippines Solidarity Organization supports the jeepney drivers striking for their livelihood and joins the call to end the jeepney phaseout! The Filipino people deserve investment, national industrialisation, and involvement in decisions closely tied to their livelihoods and futures. Jeepneys can be rehabilitated to grow industry and economy for the Filipino people!