Netizens slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement to transport groups that are protesting against the jeepney modernization program when he told them that he does not care if they continue to suffer in poverty and hunger.
“Mahirap kayo? P**** i** Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam. It’s the majority of Filipinos. Huwag ninyong ipasubo ang tao,” Duterte said on October 17 in Camarines Sur during a federalism forum.
Duterte made the statement as he demanded that transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) follow the government policies and the laws, even if its members are poor.
“I am the president. Either you kill me or you follow me. If the law is not followed, son of a b****, we have to kill each other,” he said.
He chided the group for opposing the modernization program even if the old, smoke-belching jeepneys pose health risks to the public.
“You know the machines, the engines of PUJs (public utility jeepneys), are about 20 to 25 years old. We got them from the other countries. The reconditioned ones were sold here and they have been pumping in so much carbon dioxide into the air, including the factories,” Duterte said in Filipino.
“I will give you until the end of the month or until the end of the year. Sumunod kayo kasi, January 1, ‘pag may makita akong jeep diyan na hindi nakarehistro, guguyurin ko ‘yan sa harap ninyo,” he added.
Earlier in October 17, in Marawi City, Duterte also hit Piston for “poisoning” the riding public as they oppose the modernization program.
“You Piston, you know that you are poisioning the people. 2030, one-third of Filipinos, mostly poor, die of lung cancer because you don’t want to fix your engines,” said Duterte in English and Filipino.
Duterte also deemed the transport strike as a “rebellion,” adding that Piston, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and other strike participants are “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“It’s one big conspiracy but they are at the same time, all of them, are committing right now, rebellion,” said Duterte.
Duterte insisted that the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program is for public interest and noted how the United Nation has projected that the figures of lung cancer cases in the Philippines would grow three times by 2025.
“There is a time for friendship and there is a time to be reasonable and there is a time for reconciliation and a time for hatred,” Duterte said.
“Filipinos are at stake here. I am the president of the nation. I have to abandon the civilities and the niceties of life. When I was mayor, you were my friends…This time I am the president of the Republic of the Philippines and it’s not about me. It’s about the law.”
Piston president George San Mateo reasoned that their group is not against the modernization program but the “corporatization” of PUVs as big companies can afford to pay the minimum required 10 units of e-jeeps per fleet. He said that each new jeep would cost them P1.6 million.
To this, Duterte said that even small operators who cannot afford the new jeep can pay P1 per day.
“If you cannot afford it, I am OK even if you just pay P1 per day,” he said.
However, the netizens were stuck with Duterte’s statement that he did not care that the PUJ drivers will suffer in poverty and hunger.
One Twitter user posted two screenshots of tweets about what Duterte said recently and what he said about being poor in 2016.
Over a year ago, Duterte said: “Ako po ay anak ng mahirap. Kami po ay pumunta ng Mindanao kasi mahirap ho sa Cebu. Ang oportunidad napakasikip.”
Twitter user @mosesalbiento tweeted: “What a difference a year makes: on Duterte’s view of the poor and the marginalized.”
What a difference a year makes: on Duterte’s view of the poor and the marginalized pic.twitter.com/8sjPoSf8Ob
— Moses Albiento (@mosesalbiento) October 17, 2017
Outspoken actress Agot Isidro also weighed in on the issue.
““Btw, di ba sinabi mo, “I’ll be the first one to go hungry…” Oh what a difference a year makes,” Isidro tweeted.
Btw, di ba sinabi mo, “I’ll be the first one to go hungry…”
Oh what a difference a year makes 🙄 pic.twitter.com/4TJH4ydDNC
— Agot Isidro (@agot_isidro) October 17, 2017
“You used the poor to win votes. Now that they demand a better life, your response is, “Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom.” Wow,” said former TV Patrol reporter Ryan Chua.
You used the poor to win votes. Now that they demand a better life, your response is, “Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom.” Wow.
— Ryan Edward Chua 蔡曼中 (@ryan_chua) October 17, 2017
“We can transition to modern transpo w/o blaming, demeaning drivers. Goal is to transition them so they get better jobs, not left vulnerable,” said former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
We can transition to modern transpo w/o blaming, demeaning drivers. Goal is to transition them so they get better jobs, not left vulnerable.
— florin hilbay (@fthilbay) October 18, 2017
A Twitter user even reacted to how President Duterte set a January 1, 2018 deadline for jeepney drivers and operators to modernize their PUVs.
“Kung makapagset ng deadline sa jeepney drivers tong si digong kala mo tinupad nya yung 6 months nya e,” he said.
Kung makapagset ng deadline sa jeepney drivers tong si digong kala mo tinupad nya yung 6 months nya e
— encar (@parokyaniencar) October 17, 2017
Here are other reactions from the netizens:
The whole “Tatay Digong” persona was all an act; the president never gave a shit for the marginalized unless it served him. https://t.co/oafxm8ZzKp
— Nathania Chua (@PilosopoTanya) October 17, 2017
This must be read in the context of—
IN WHAT CONTEXT IS THIS REMARK FINE? When 21% of Filipinos are poor, a President doesn’t say this! https://t.co/GkCYlxQJdF
— Your Lodi Says (@YourLawyerSays) October 17, 2017