/ 10 April 2022

THE ALLIANCE  of Concerned Teachers joined other education workers in commemorating the first anniversary of the UP community pantry by way of sharing meals with PUV drivers.

The group honored drivers as modern-day heroes for continuously providing essential transport services amid soaring oil prices and direly lacking government support.

“This same time last year, the UP community set up its own pantry as part of the community pantry movement that mobilized thousands across the country, started by its very own alumna, Ms. Patreng Non,” said group secretary general Raymond Basilio.

“This effort was our collective response to the people’s needs that were neglected by the Duterte government amid the grave health and economic crises. Today, we come together again to commemorate such spirit of solidarity by standing alongside one of the most neglected yet essential sectors in our midst – our PUV drivers” he said.

“And from one essential worker to another, we wanted to share with them a meal also deemed essential: lugaw.”

The group gave recognition to the continuous provision of transport services of PUV drivers who, they added, bear the burden of record-high oil prices without sufficient support from the Duterte administration.

It can be recalled how the transport sector was severely hit during the several lockdowns implemented in the last two years.

Its main, and only source of income was cut off, and aid remained wanting for the majority of drivers.

“Ngayon pa lang sinusubukang makabawi ng mga tsuper mula sa matinding displacement at kahirapang idinulot ng palpak na tugon sa pandemya ng Duterte admin. Sa pagluwag ng lockdowns, sumirit naman ang presyo ng langis – na muli ay hindi na naman ni-resolba ng gobyerno at ngayo’y pinapasan ng mga drayber at ng ordinaryong mga Pilipino,” said the statement.

“Gaya ng sektor ng edukasyon, walang kapantay na kapabayaan ang napala nila mula sa pamahalaang Duterte,” Basilio said.

The group denounced government abandonment of essential workers throughout the pandemic.

Aside from launching its own programs such as ‘Tulong Guro’ and school community pantries to extend aid to communities in need, the group is also intent on electing change in the May 9 polls.

It officially endorsed the candidacies of VP Leni Robredo for president and Senator Kiko Pangilinan for vice president, who ACT said have a track record in responding to the crises plaguing the country in a timely, humane, and efficient manner, and have a grounded plan for recovery.

“Our drivers, education workers, and the rest of the Filipino people deserve better. So in the coming elections, let’s elect better leaders. No more of the same, old families that put us in this horrible situation in the first place. Let’s come together once again on May 9 and cast our votes for the change our country needs,” Basilio said.