Yesterday afternoon, I had a little mission that I went on with a friend. We had scheduled an activity that we both wanted to do. My friend, Lucky, is a German who is also studying Bisaya like I am. We both have the same teacher (Bebe), so we met through her some time back. Lucky and I decided last week to have a little weekly activity together that would make for a good language practice for us. That’s not what I am writing about today, though. I’ll write an article about that next week.
When Lucky came to my house, though, he was running later than I expected. When I asked Lucky how it was going, he told me that he had trouble getting to my house, because there was a transportation strike! Hmm… funny, I had heard nothing about any impending strike. For those who don’t know, a transportation strike in the Philippines is when Jeepney drivers go on strike. Since the Philippines relies heavily on Jeepnies for getting people from one place to another, a transportation strike can literally paralyze a City, especially a big City like Davao.
I asked Lucky why the drivers went on strike, and he told me that the taxi driver that had brought him to my place had explained it to him (in Bisaya), and he only understood a little bit. So, I did a little research and I must admit that I was kind of shocked at what I learned.
The Jeepney Drivers went on strike because the Department of Transportation and Communications recently drastically increased the fines for driving violations by Jeepney Drivers. For example, if a Jeepney driver lets a passenger stand on the step board of the vehicle, the fine used to be P277 for the offense. Under the new regulations, the fine for this offense is now as high as P5,277, more than $100! That is a huge amount considering that the driver probably makes no more than P300 to P400 per day in income. So, we are talking like 2 weeks worth of income for letting somebody ride on the step board, something which is a very common event? And, to take the fine from P277 to P5,277 in a single step is just beyond what should happen, in my opinion.
Now, there are some new fines which I totally agree with, though. For example, if the driver is caught taking illegal drugs the penalty is now P10,000 and automatic revocation of the driver’s license. For me, a stiff penalty like this is deserved for a driver that is caught taking drugs. For driving under the influence of alcohol the fine is now P5,000. For me, that is light, it should be the same as the fine for drug use.
Drivers can also be fined for wearing tsinelas or slippers. There are a number of other new penalties and offenses. Some I agree with, many I don’t though.
If you were a person making P300 per day, and you got stuck with a fine that was 2 weeks pay, what would you do? I know that if it happened to me, I’d be in dire shape.