Has the country experienced any changes in the year since Marcos Jr took oath as the president? Have the lives of those in the transportation sector been impacted, or does the regime remain the same as Duterte’s—puppet, oppressive, and fascist?
No action on high oil prices and deregulation
During Marcos Jr’s tenure, the country has grappled with high oil prices inherited from the latter part of the Duterte regime. While there have been slight rollbacks since June 2022, gasoline and diesel prices in NCR remain around P60 per liter, which is approximately P20 higher than the end of 2021.
Despite calls to lower oil prices, including requests to scrap the E-VAT and excise tax on petroleum products, repeal the Oil Deregulation Law, and nationalize the oil industry, Marcos Jr has remained silent.
As of May 2023, the price of gasoline and diesel in NCR continues to hover around P60 per liter. Meanwhile, oil companies have continued to profit, with Petron earning P6.7 billion in 2022 compared to P6.1 billion in 2021. Caltex expanded its business with 28 new gas stations, and Shell’s earnings reached P4.1 billion in 2022, up from P3.9 billion in 2021.
Marcos Jr’s version of the PUV Modernization Program: Progress for whom?
Despite promising to oppose the phaseout of traditional jeepneys during his campaign, Marcos Jr has since shown support for the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) immediately upon taking office.
His opposition to the PUV phaseout was clearly a lie and mere pretense. In reality, continuing the PUVMP only serves to pass billions of pesos worth of contracts and profits to the cronies of the Marcos family and to further comply with US imperialist interests.
Apart from imported mini-buses with Euro4 engines, the regime is now pushing for imported Electric Vehicles (EVs) supplied by the US, China, Japan, and Korea as replacements for traditional PUVs. Shortly after Marcos Jr returned from the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia in November 2022, he expressed his desire to provide tax breaks or tariff exemptions for the imported EVs. In January 2023, he signed EO 12 to formally implement this. This means that foreign EV manufacturers will have more freedom and ease in selling their vehicles in the country.
In the first quarter of 2023, the Department of Energy (DOE) pushed to expedite the importation of EVs under the government’s “National EV Roadmap,” a plan dictated by the US to maximize the profits of American EV manufacturers from the PUVMP as soon as possible. Marcos Jr also secured a pledge from Singapore for e-trikes worth $5 billion.
While we recognize the importance of having more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, this is merely a pretense as only the local bourgeoisie compradors, who are known cronies of the Marcoses like Aboitiz (who has been deploying COMET mini-buses), Ramon Ang (to open a $500 million-worth EV battery plant in Dinagat Islands), and Ayala (who sells imported EVs from foreign suppliers like Kia Motors), benefit from it.
Furthermore, Marcos Jr oversees the continuous extraction of profits by imperialist countries, transnational companies, and global financial institutions (World Bank, ADB, GIZ) through this false modernization program. The US explicitly pushes the PUVMP to benefit American EV manufacturers and energy firms while competing with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean transport companies. In May 2023, USAID also announced that it will provide $5 million in funding for mining minerals in the country to be used as EV components and ICT equipment for the benefit of US manufacturers at the expense of Filipino workers working in oppressive conditions with poverty wages.
Hence, Marcos Jr’s version of the PUVMP is essentially no different from the version propagated by Duterte. It has only been rebranded to showcase electric vehicles that benefit the US, prioritize the contracts of the Marcos cronies, and present “clean and renewable energy” as a cover to easily deceive the masses from the plunder and exploitation by the ruling class. Meanwhile, the oppressive provisions of the Omnibus Franchise Guidelines and PUVMP persist, such as the consolidation of franchises, route monopolization by businessmen, and the elimination of PUJ routes through measures like the implementation of the Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in certain cities.
Although Marcos Jr made verbal promises and claimed that the government will supposedly reevaluate the Omnibus Franchise Guidelines (OFG) and PUVMP due to the people’s strong collective action and determination during the transport strike in March 2023, it is clear that the direction that the regime is taking is far from our sector’s demands for a genuinely sustainable mass public transportation system based on a fair and just transition. Instead, it perpetuates the rotten semi-colonial and semi-feudal society in the Philippines.
Excessive fines, charges, and fees
Although the implementation of the No Contact Apprehension Program (NCAP), which we opposed because it became a business and profit scheme for private camera suppliers and operators like QPAX, has been temporarily suspended, the government has still found other ways to extract money from drivers. In May 2023, cities in Metro Manila implemented the Single Ticketing System, where they issue and collect only one traffic ticket violation and fine amount. PISTON initially supported this proposal on the condition that the fine would remain below ₱1,000. However, when it was implemented, fines imposed on motorists reached up to ₱5,000.
Furthermore, the government has failed to resolved the costly, slow, and anomalous practices in transport agencies when it comes to processing vehicle documents.
PISTON maintains its position that in order to reduce and prevent traffic violations, the government should prioritize providing free, widespread, and accessible education for drivers, improving traffic infrastructure, and eliminating corruption on the roads. It is unjust, especially for struggling drivers and small operators, to excessively impose fines under the guise of “discipline” and “traffic management.” In reality, the government has a sworn responsibility to make the entire transportation system in the country safe and efficient because enforcing traffic laws is a public service that should not be turned into a profit-making venture.
Continue the struggle for a genuinely sustainable public mass transport system!
Let us not be swayed by the words and promises of the Marcos Jr regime. No amount of lies and deception from Marcos Jr can erase the fact that his family and those they support in power have a history of plunder and theft from the people. It cannot be denied by anyone that Marcos Jr’s actions still serve the interests of the ruling elite here and abroad.
Let us continue to unite for our rights and tirelessly defend our livelihoods!