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By:  Krixia SubingsubingNeil Arwin Mercado

UV Express vans and conventional jeepneys will be allowed back on the road next week, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chief told lawmakers on Wednesday.

During an online hearing held by the House committee on Metro Manila development, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice asked LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra to make clear when UV Express vans and conventional jeepneys would be allowed to resume operations.

“Next week for both UV and traditional jeepneys,” Delgra replied.

“For Monday, slots will be opened for UV and then followed by the traditional jeepney,” he added, without providing an exact date for the return of jeepneys.

Lockdown measures imposed three months ago to halt the spread of the new coronavirus barred most public transport, forcing the gaudily decorated jeepneys off the road.

The relaxation of quarantine measures on June 1 allowed some public transport to resume operations, but not the jeepneys, whose two facing benches, though far enough from each other to be considered risky for virus transmission, had been cited by transport officials as reason for putting them on the bottom-most rung of their economic reopening plan.

Jobless for three months, many of the jeepney drivers have resorted to begging in the streets, displaying cardboard signs bearing pleas for money and food. A few have been arrested and charged for allegedly flouting quarantine measures.

Earlier on Wednesday, jeepney drivers threatened to burn their vehicles in the streets as a last resort if transport officials continued to insist on removing them from the road in the name of the battle against the new coronavirus pandemic.

Malacañang, however, said UV Express vans stood a better chance of being allowed to resume operations rather than jeepneys because of the bus-like seating on the air-conditioned vehicles that made them less risky for transmission of the COVID-19 causative virus.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Efren de Luna, president of the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, said jeepney drivers would “do whatever it takes to defend their livelihood” if the Department of Transportation (DOTr) continued to give them the runaround on when they would be allowed to go work again.

“That’s how dire the situation is. Because what will we do with our vehicles if the government will no longer allow them back on the road?” De Luna said.

The full report in today’s issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1297026/ltfrb-chief-uv-express-jeepneys-back-next-week#ixzz6QKARIAJM
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REDUCED TO MENDICANCY “A little help for us jeepney drivers,” says the cardboard sign carried by Samuel Narag as he begs for alms, together with other jeepney drivers displaced by the coronavirus quarantine, on C. P. Garcia Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City, on Monday. Other drivers have threatened mass protests if the government continues to refuse to allow jeepneys back on the road. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE