Driving a jeepney is a parasitical profession

Do jeepneys have a future in Philippine public transport? The answer most people would like to hear to the above question is quite disturbing.

Jeepneys have a future because these provide employment to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. They will be deprived of a livelihood if jeepneys are phased out.

What is wrong with this answer? Simple. It does not answer the question. Rather, it misses the point of the question by a mile by sidestepping the issue of whether jeepneys have a place in a society that aspires to modernise. Worse, such an answer suggests that jeepney drivers are entitled to employment and that a change in circumstances that results in the disappearance of their livelihood is everyone’s problem.

These jeepney drivers and the bleeding-heart “activists” who encourage that kind of crybaby attitude should get real jobs, because driving a jeepney is essentially a parasitical profession. The entire jeepney industry takes advantage of a failure of government to do essential nationkeeping jobs. Jeepneys are like the cockroaches that move into a house managed by a poor housekeeper or homemaker. When a more competent housekeeper takes over, the first thing on the agenda is to exterminate vermin that infested said house under the previous watch.

These jeepneys, these insults to the public transport sector, are relics of post World War II Manila. The chaos jeepneys represent reflect the state of chaos Manila was in just after it was flattened by American and Japanese shelling. These contraptions came in to fill a void left after the once-proud public transport infrastructure built by the Americans in Manila went up in smoke. They’ve been there since. Fast forward from Philippine Independence Day to the second decade of the 21st Century and you will find Manila still looking like a post-Liberation city of 1946 thanks to the cockroach-like jeepneys that infest it.

Today, this parasitical industry is allowed to persist because, as “activists” say, they, “at least”, provide livelihood to able-bodied Filipino men who would otherwise be spending their days drinking beer at the corner store. These “activists” think they are doing these “hapless” Filipino men a favour by defending their parasitical sources of livelihood. The fact is, they are actually insulting Filipino manhood.

Indeed, the disturbing assumption that props up “activist” rhetoric that defends the jeepney industry is that Filipino jeepney drivers will simply lay down and starve to death if jeepneys are wiped off the face of Philippine cities. These “activists” have all but convinced these men that driving the jeepney is all they are worth to the Philippine economy and that if that “job” disappears, they are as good as dead. The extent to which the idea that jeepney drivers are victims has hijacked the whole “debate” around the future of Philippine public transport is such that the Philippine Government itself is paralysed by inaction when it comes to implementing the obvious solution to the jeepney problem.

Even more laughable are the appeals to emotion of these “activists”. They beseech the Philippine public not only to put up with but to support the occasional strikes launched by these “public transport workers” in consideration of their “plight”. You just gotta laugh. Consideration, they say? When was the last time anyone has seen a jeepney driver showing the same consideration for the other motorists with whom they share the road with?

Enough is enough. Jeepneys and the men who drive them have no place in a country that aspires to be a modern and truly proud nation. Public transport is too important a factor in national development to be left to the devices of a bunch of parasites and the “thought leaders” and politicians who coddle them.

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11 Comments on “Driving a jeepney is a parasitical profession”

  1. at the rate these jeepney strikes or “caravan” are being staged, to the inconvenience of the riding public, i am beginning to agree more and more that these old wartime jeepneys should be totally phased out!

  2. At for once I totally agree with that text.
    But why not to mention the highly corrupt system that allow few individuals that own jeepneys companies to make such good money on the back of that government failure?
    Those drivers would drink all day if they loose their job? They already drink and use drugs all day for most of them…
    What about the laziness of Pinoys that cannot walk 5 meters and need a jeepney to stop and go for those 5 meters? How would they do if that service stops?
    One solution: shoot them all, comparing them with cockroach is an insult for those insects…

  3. Jepneys are the worst traffic offenders and the worst polluters. Just by enforcing already existing laws 99% these rolling coffins would be off the road because they don’t even fulfill the most basic safety standards. These jeepney drivers are vermin. Their vehicles an insult to the commuting public. These vehicles have never been maintained, they stink, are dirty, the seats ripped to shreds. Filipinos are lazy fuckers, face it. Where else in the world would you have a public transport that stops every few meters so some lard-ass does not have to walk till the next street corner. Students even take Jeepneys to ride them for 300 meters? WTF? Next jeepney strike; spray them with tear gas, or maybe better, drag their head in front of a Jeepney exhaust and step on the gas pedal.

  4. I think the whole exercise posed the wrong question. It is not about the future of the jeepneys (or its role or worth or contribution) in the country’s public transport that we should be talking about but the option available to us if ever jeepneys are eradicated on the face of the earth. Sadly, the writeup never mentioned anything about that issue.

    Enumerating all the wrongs in having these jeepneys in our streets to the point of calling it “cockroaches” also missed the point completely. In every wrong mentioned there is an equal right that supports the existence of jeepneys.

    Unless an idea, a sane one, that will show how these “cockroaches” can be replaced to solve the public transport problem, is forwarded, I will continue to strongly disagree with the opinion of this piece.

  5. The Jeepney is itself is a symbol of failure to solve a problem in its history. First, it was used as a stopgap measure because of the destruction of the tranvia during World War 2. Leftover Wilys MBs (the original Jeep) were taken by Filipinos (wonder if that reflects the Filipino desire to live on pillages) to be converted into temporary transport until a replacement for the tranvia was made. But that replacement never came, and jeepneys stayed. What made jeepneys more dangerous was the boundary system, that business model that makes drivers race dangerously and cut off competition in trying to “make agaw” passengers. Well, that’s another symbol from this, the “agawan” mentality of Filipinos.

    Filipino may continue to celebrate jeepneys as a symbol of Filipino “ingenuity,” but it could also be seen as a symbol of both keeping stopgaps instead of thinking of permanent solutions and dependence on the Americans. The latter is clear when you realize the jeepney retains the 1930s features of the Willys MB.

    From what I hear, jeepneys have no hand brakes, so that makes them dangerous when parked on slopes. I remember once at Ever Commonwealth, a jeepney I had boarded with a friend slipped its chock (calso) and was rolling down the ramp without a driver. Luckily someone jumped in to stop it, and no one was hurt. But that demonstrates the risk such jeepneys pose.

    If jeepneys are gone, solutions like carpooling, Uber and Grab, trains, electric cabs (like those in Cubao and Centris), motorcycles and bicycles should fill in the gap. It doesn’t take too many brain cells to think of something.

    But the problem that compounds transport is the overcrowding of the metropolis. We wouldn’t need so much transport if we didn’t have too many people in the city.

    Perhaps what keeps jeepneys and boundary system transport is that politicians may be owners of transport companies or have stakes in them. Same with mass media.

  6. Unless, we do away with this obsolete transport system; we will never have an efficient transport system.

    Jeepneys are World War II relics, that are inefficient and gas guzzlers…electric rail system are more efficient to move a lot of people, and are more efficient in operation…

    During the time the great inventor, Thomas Edison, invented the Electric Bulb. Many Candle Makers/Lamp Makers, may had been complaining, because their jobs were made obsolete by the electric bulb.

    We can draw the same situation now, with these jeepney drivers , as better transport system are invented and are developed.

  7. Agreed on all points. Unfortunately a stop gap is better then none at all. This is the fault of our leaders more then the drivers themselves. The only way to wipe out these parasites out is for the nation to develop a more modern and more efficient transportation system. Build more subway and trains.

  8. Agreed with Ponse. It will keep boiling down to developing a better working public transport system. A lawyer-friend said, as long as public transport remains a cottage industry, we’ll never see it improve.

  9. A parasitical profession seldom altogether abandon a monarch so long as the crown still glitters on their head.

  10. I fail to see how jeepney drivers can be considered parasites when they provide a service that millions of Filipinos use every day.

    The jeepney of today is ancient technology and probably poorly maintained, but a modern vehicle of similar size and capacity would certainly be an acceptable replacement. Look on YouTube for Thai Baht Buses as an example of what appear to be Japanese pickups adapted to carry passengers. I have seen the UVExpress vehicles in Manila, and am not impressed by what seems to be the poor design.
    It also strikes me that many of the roads used by Jeepneys are not suitable for purpose built buses (and having driven them for 17 years I have some knowledge).

    The biggest problem is that neither roadworthiness, driving nor regulatory laws appear to be enforced. Couple this with the usual lack of accountability and responsibility, and you have a recipe for shambles.

    The Boundary System is something I don’t understand.It seems to me that the driver(and conductor if used)effectively hire the vehicle,and their earnings are the surplus beyond that. Possibly somebody could confirm or correct this impression.

    Lets face it, Jeepneys will still be around for years, if only because the logistics and finances make it impossible to replace them with the speed people seem to think is possible. Maybe President Duterte could go to Beijing again and grovel for the Chinese to provide replacements as aid. That seems to be his modus operandi. I know the Chinese make great light rail vehicles.

    What I hardly ever see in discussions on Jeepneys is a reasoned option to replace them that takes into account a reasonable timescale and would be of use to the 75 % or so who live outside Imperial Manila on a far greater proportion of the national land mass. Will this be a ground-breaker?

  11. It’s okay to have an opinion, but don’t degrade and don’t condemn. The people who need to listen to you won’t listen if you write like an angry person. Sure, all those other comments are great, but they’re not the people who you need to convince.

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