DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Taxi and jeepney drivers are struggling about how to make ends meet in the pandemic which is compounded with this week’s big-time oil price hike by oil companies.
Leoncio Racaba, a taxicab driver, scratches his head as he passes by a gasoline station in R. Castillo Street after seeing the petroleum prices now reach P80. Fuel prices have risen around P25 since January this year, and he says there’ll be nothing left in his income driving his cab.
Rabaca, age 59, has been driving a taxicab for 15 years and is the only supporting his family. Since the pandemic he has been driving his taxi for almost 24 hours a day to double his income that will sustain their daily needs and set aside a portion for his medical maintenance.
But this week Rabaca said “it is almost impossible” to put food on their table because his earnings were almost entirely spent on gasoline and car rental.
“Wala na gyud ma’am, hasta nang hangaka. Bisan pag di na ko matulog ani sige na lang kog drive di na ko mukita og usa libo pasaka. Sa una kaya kaya pa man to bisan Covid, pero karon noon nga mas daghan daghan na musakay og taxi, ning mahal man pud noon ka grabe ang gasoline,” Rabaca said.
(I’ll have nothing left; I’m gasping. Even if I’m losing sleep driving for days I can’t earn P1,000 or more. It was manageable even during Covid, but now when people are looking for a taxi, the fuel price has shoot up.)
From October to December last year, Rabaca said he takes home at least a minimum of P700 a day and pays his daily car rental worth P800.
But since January of this year, Rabaca said his operator decided to increase his rental to P1,100 due to expensive maintenance and gas price.
“Dati mga October to December sa 20 liters nga akong maconsume sa tibuok adlaw naa pay mabilin sa akoa gamay. Karon mga P800 pud gud ang nadugang sa among igahin pang gas lang,” he added.
(Last October to December, my driving for the whole day would consume 20 liters, but I still have enough to take home. But now I need to pay an additional P300 for the fuel.)
In January this year, Racaba spent P1, 300 for gasoline, then P1, 600 in February, and this month he spends P2,000 and sometimes more.
Jeepney drivers are also spending more and earning less due to the oil price hike, said transport leader Larry Arguilles of Transmission-Piston Southern Mindanao.
Arguilles said that a jeepney traveling within the downtown area consumes one liter per round-trip, but for the whole day the jeepney will consume a minimum of 15 liters.
Jeepney drivers also take few passengers in the pandemic, around six to 10 passengers per trip. Their earnings are affected also by daily heavy traffic.
“Ang iya ra gyud madala sa kada round trip naa ra gyud sa kapin gatus ug samtang ang ihayang arkila nasa P400 kung jeep, asa man kuhaon karon sa driver ang iyang income aron madala sa iyang pamilya?” Arguilles asked.
(They can only earn P400 per round trip, now where else can he earn other income for their families?)
During their protest action on the big day of oil price hike on Wednesday, Transmission-Piston Southern Mindanao along with progressive groups in the city called for the suspension of the excise tax that they said drives the increase of oil prices in the Philippine market.
“If the government suspends the excise tax and VAT on fuel products, almost Php 20/liter will be deducted for Gasoline and Php 10/liter for Diesel.”
The group also calls to repeal the R.A. 8479 or the Downstream Oil Deregulation Act of 1998 and pushed to divert the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to give priority assistance to the affected sectors. (davaotoday.com)