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Jeepney drivers in Bacolod to get decent pay under the modernization program

The positive effects of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) is slowly taking its form in Bacolod City. 

One issue drivers fear about the PUVMP is the perceived low take-home pay as they are now considered employees of the transport cooperative, which was formed after individual franchise holders were consolidated into one unit..

In the traditional jeepney, drivers pay a daily rent (boundary) to the owner or operator having no employer-employee relationship.

Under the PUVMP, they become employees of the cooperative or corporation that hired them.

Cooperative officials allayed drivers’ fears of low pay as under the PUVMP, drivers will be receiving a fixed salary and other benefits the government mandates.

Renalin Martem, Managing Partner of the Peoples Jeep Transport Cooperative - Bacolod City believes drivers could get a decent income under PUVMP.

The average driver, she said, could take home at least P12,000 monthly from a P480 daily wage plus a daily allowance of P300.

The conductor or the Public Assistance Officer earns a little less that than with a daily wage income of P450 and a daily allowance of P250.

On top of that are mandatory benefits that include the Social Security System, PhilHealth, PAG-Ibig, 13th-month pay, and a 15-day vacation leave. Other cooperatives have life insurance plans and hospital loans.

“Because we are a cooperative, eventually we may be able to give up to 14th-month pay if the income is good,” Martem said.

Renalin Martem, Managing Partner of the Peoples Jeep Transport Cooperative - Bacolod City believes drivers could get a decent income under PUVMP. (PIA NegOcc photo)

Before the PUVMP was implemented, membership in these insurances was optional. And because it was optional, these were not benefits drivers were entitled to.

United Negros Transport Cooperative (UNETCO) chairperson Romelie Soliguen revealed a similar salary range of drivers’ daily income at P750 per day and P630 for the conductor or Public Assistance Officer (PAO).

Eventually, their earnings can go up depending on their collections, she added.

Both officials expressed satisfaction in terms of government support to their organizations. Nevertheless, they are still urging the government to fully implement the PUVMP to optimize their income as they have loans to pay and employees to serve. 

‘Mang Rudy,’ who drove a traditional jeep for 12 years recalled “it is true that back then, I could get a good income for a day’s work. But, at the most, I can only drive two to three days a week because of constant jeepney breakdowns and also to rest. You see throughout the day, we are exposed to the heat of the sun and toxic smoke.”

A modernized People's Jeep traverses its daily route in downtown Bacolod city (PIA NegOcc photo)

“In the modernized jeepney, I can drive for the whole week from morning till night feeling fresh because it is air-conditioned. I don’t get tired easily.”

Under the PUVMP Mang Rudy takes home not less than P14,800 per month excluding allowances and overtime.

He missed a decade and a half, though, of Pag-IBIG, SSS, and Philhealth benefits. Now, membership in these insurances is required.

He is thankful that under the present setup, unruly drivers can be disciplined because the cooperative has mechanisms for that. “In the traditional jeepney, you have drivers breaking the rules at will because they are under pressure to reach the boundary at the earliest time.”

He noted also that one of the advantages of the PUVMP is that it gave livelihood to many unemployed who were hired as PAO.

A 24-year-old PAO, who spoke on condition of anonymity, considers himself fortunate to have been hired by a cooperative in their barangay after a stint job at a city supermarket. He said he is better paid at more than P14,000 a month, doesn’t have to travel downtown to work, and finds more time to rest when passengers have all gone down at the terminal. 

Another driver who wishes not to be identified said he’s been driving for more than 15 years. He said the modernized jeepney gives him comfort in the daily driving grind because it is air-conditioned. This is something they never had with the traditional jeep.

 “The program allowed us to become members of the SSS, Pag-IBIG, and Philhealth. That means I can receive a pension when I retire. I was never a member of these institutions in my traditional jeep driving days.”

When our group joined the cooperative, we encouraged our fellow drivers to also join us. Some did, others didn’t, and I respect their decision.

“ As for me, I can see a good future for my family here. I am thankful to the PUVMP, It is giving me a better and secured tomorrow.” (AAL/Llljr/PIA6 Negros Occ.)

About the Author

Lorenzo Lambatin, Jr.


Region 6

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