THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) canceled the public hearing yesterday after the Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative (Citrasco) withdrew its petition to increase the minimum jeepney fare from P7.50 to P10.
Citrasco Chairman Benjamin Ryan Yu said the withdrawal stemmed from the transport strike or protest last week when only Citrasco members were plying the streets.
He said they found that most of those who joined the transport strike or about 30 percent of the total number of jeepneys were colorum. They’ve also noticed that without colorum vehicles, the income of the drivers will increase.
“So, we are now withdrawing our petition to increase the minimum jeepney fare and instead urge LTFRB to run after colorum jeepneys,” Yu said.
The other transport leaders from Atomic, Nagkahiusang Draybers sa Sugbo (Nadsu) and the National Confederation of Transport Unity (NCTU) said they came to support the petition for fare increase, but they were surprised by Citrasco’s withdrawal of the petition.
“We are dismayed. We could have expressed our reasons we are supporting fare rate increase had the petition not been withdrawn,” said Romeo Armamento of NCTU.
Boboei Belarmino of the Cebu Labor Coalition (Celac) said they support the petition for fare rate increase, but they were caught off-guard with the withdrawal of the petition.
While Art Barrit of the Associated Labor Union (ALU) said they are strongly opposing any fare rate because it can reduce the take-home pay of the workers, Belarmino said they consider the drivers as workers, hence, they attended the scheduled public hearing to support it.
Rudy Laconza of the Atomic group said that they are saddened by the withdrawal of the petition by Citrasco.
“The problem here is that LTFRB has a ruling that only operators and not drivers can file a petition for fare rate increase. We, the drivers, are most abused and neglected by the government,” Laconza said.
Jose Tomungha of Sentro Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) said he represented the labor sector in the scheduled hearing and he was dismayed that the petition was withdrawn.
“While any fare increase can also affect the workers, we also sympathize with the plight of the drivers whom they consider as workers also, and have low income,” Tomungha said.
When sought to comment, LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon said they respect the petitioner’s withdrawal, which only shows that they are sensitive to the plight of the commuting public.
“I salute Mr. Yu and Citrasco for the move, even if it could mean sacrifices on their part,” Cuizon said. EOB