The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) stands in solidarity with the jeepney drivers and operators who will hold a week-long transport strike (tigil pasada) beginning today March 6, 2023. This strike is a legitimate expression of their frustration and anger against the continued implementation of the jeepney phase-out program, which threatens their livelihoods, safety, and dignity.
The KMP believes that the jeepney drivers and farmers share a common interest in promoting local production and development, and in resisting corporate control of social services, and import dependence. We call on the Filipino people to support the jeepney strike and to express their solidarity with the drivers and operators.
The jeepney is not just a mode of transportation for millions of Filipinos, including farmers and farm workers, but also a cultural icon and symbol of community and resilience. The jeepney has been an integral part of the Filipino way of life for decades, providing affordable and accessible transportation to remote and underserved areas, and serving as a platform for social and political discourse and expression.
For farmers, the jeepney is not only a means of transportation but also a source of income and opportunity. Many farmers rely on jeepneys to bring their produce from the farms to the market or to connect with other farmers and cooperatives. Some farmers also use jeepneys as a side job or source of income during lean months or off-season, as drivers or operators. The jeepney is therefore a vital link in the agricultural value chain and a key driver of local production and development.
The jeepney phaseout program, being pushed by the Marcos Jr. administration, is a misguided and anti-poor policy that favors foreign interests and big corporations over the needs and interests of the people, especially the poor and marginalized sectors. The phaseout program is based on the flawed assumption that modernization and development can only be achieved through the importation and adoption of foreign technologies and products, rather than through the promotion of local production and innovation.
The KMP believes that genuine development and progress can only be achieved through a comprehensive and people-centered approach that addresses the root causes of poverty and underdevelopment, such as landlessness, feudalism, and foreign domination. We call on the government to prioritize the interests and welfare of the people, especially the farmers and farm workers, and to pursue a genuine agrarian reform program that will distribute land to the tillers, promote rural development, and uplift the lives of the rural poor.
We also call on the jeepney drivers and operators to unite and organize themselves, and to demand their rights and interests from the government and the public. We support their call for the suspension of the jeepney phaseout program and the implementation of a pro-people transition to jeepney modernization and alternative measures that will improve the safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability of the jeepney fleet, without sacrificing the livelihoods and dignity of the drivers and operators. ###