Fares raised to P8-A A +A
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
A SERIES of fuel price increases provoked temporary relief for transport operators, but not necessarily for their passengers.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Manila issued yesterday a provisional authority to public transport drivers and operators, allowing them to increase the minimum fare of public utility jeepneys (PUJ).
Only Regions 1 and 12 are exempted.
The provisional authority was issued while the board weighs the petition for a fare rate increase of P2 for the minimum fare and 35 centavos per succeeding kilometer (from the existing P1.40 to P1.75). A public hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Lawyer Manuel Iway, one of the LTFRB board members, opposed the 50-centavo increase because transport operators failed to submit documents to prove their position.
“It is distressing to note that the oft-repeated claim that increases in diesel prices also result in an increase in the prices of spare parts of public utility vehicles have continued to be unsupported by any evidence. What is undisputed is that the rise in fare hikes results in a rise in cost of living,” Iway said.
The petition for a fare increase was filed only for transport operators in the National Capital Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
The groups behind it are the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), Liga ng mga Tsuper at Operator sa Pilipinas Inc. (LTOP), Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO) and the Pangkalahatang Sanguaniang Metro Manila and Suburb Association (Pasang-Masda).
The order, signed by LTFRB Board Member Samuel Julius Garcia and Chairman Jaime Jacob, granted a provisional increase of 50 centavos for the first four kilometers. No increase was approved in the succeeding kilometers.
This brings the minimum fare to P8.50 in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Regions
2, 3 and 4.
PUJ operators in the Visayas and Regions 9 and 10 in Mindanao were also provisionally authorized to increase the minimum fare by 50 centavos.
The new rate for these areas is now P8. No provisional increase was granted for succeeding kilometers.
The LTFRB conducted public hearings on the petition for fare rate increase last Dec. 8, 2011 and an executive session last Jan. 17, 2012.
In the Dec. 8 hearing, the National Council for Commuter Protection Inc., Commuters and Consumers Advocates of the Philippines, Gabriela Inc. and Antonio Baltazar opposed the petition.
In the Jan. 17 executive session, the board agreed that any petition for rate adjustment would create a domino effect on the prices of basic commodities.
However, the LTFRB said that while it recognizes the plight of Filipino commuters, it cannot be insensitive to the clamor of stakeholders in public land transportation services.
“The Board judiciously balanced the rights of the riding public who are mostly dependent on the public transport system vis-à-vis the rights of grantees of the Certificates of Public Convenience to a reasonable return of investment,” the LTFRB said.
It also reminded drivers and operators to give the 20 percent discount to senior citizens, upon presentation of their senior citizen identification cards, and to students during school days.
LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon said that while the provisional authority takes effect
immediately, drivers cannot collect the new fare yet unless they secure the fare matrix from his office.
Interviewed separately, Iway added the provisional fare increase is unnecessary because the government has tried to help drivers through the Pantawid Pasada program.
This entitles each legitimate driver to P1,200 as gasoline allowance.
“To my knowledge, this amount has been given twice to each driver by the government.
Such grant by the government makes the provisional fare increase unnecessary,” Iway said.
“It seems that while the government is willing to ease the plight of drivers, the drivers are unwilling to do the same for their passengers,” Iway added, in opposing the fare increase.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 21, 2012.