SOME taxi operators and drivers in Metro Cebu yesterday defied the order to lower the flagdown rate from P40 to P30, saying it was unreasonable.
One cab driver was summoned to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7, after a passenger accused him of refusing to grant the P10 rate cut. He was fined P1,000, but the agency will reportedly fine the taxi operator P5,000 for the first offense.
Acting LTFRB 7 Director Rey Elnar led a team that placed stickers marked “P10 discount” on some taxi units.
He also warned taxi operators and drivers that they will be penalized under Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-001 if they fail to honor the P10 reduction.
The Metro Cebu Taxi Operators’ Association (MCTOA) under Chairman Richard Cabucos and Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative (Citrasco) under Chairman Benjamin Ryan Yu said that on their behalf, the Philippine National Taxi Operators’ Association (PINTOA) has filed a motion asking LTFRB to reconsider the flagdown rate cut.
MCTOA and Citrasco, as well as groups of taxi operators and drivers in Iloilo, have passed resolutions supporting the motion for reconsideration filed by PINTOA.
Cabucos said the LTFRB Central Office took a short cut in enforcing the lower flagdown rate, when the law requires that its order must be published in a newspaper before it can be implemented.
When LTFRB raised the flagdown rate in January 2011, Cabucos said, gasoline cost P42 per liter. But when LTFRB rolled it back effective yesterday, gasoline already cost P41.70.
Cabucos added that when LTFRB raised the flagdown rate from P25 to P30, gasoline was P28 per liter.
However, a labor leader who requested not to be named said that Cabucos should admit that 95 percent of the 5,631 taxi units in Cebu run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). LPG cost around P28 per liter yesterday.
In the meantime, Yu said, the drivers will not follow the LTFRB order imposing a P30 flagdown rate.
Yu, however, said they also told the drivers not to argue with passengers and to give them the P10 discount if they ask for it.
“We don’t implement it because we haven’t seen and read a copy of that order. I even doubt if the LTFRB 7 has a copy already. We are questioning the decision and the process of implementing that decision,” Yu said.
Elnar reported to LTFRB Chairman Winston Gines and Board Member Antonio Enrile Inton that his office received at least one complaint against a taxi driver for overcharging and a corresponding inspection report summons (IRS) was issued.
Emilio Senining, who has worked as a taxi driver for 10 years, was summoned to the LTFRB 7 after a passenger, Virgilio Villanueva, claimed that the driver did not give him the P10 deduction.
Villanueva said he boarded the Zipcar taxi at 8 a.m. in Maguikay, Mandaue City and asked to be driven to Nivel Hills, Lahug, Cebu City.
The meter showed P145 and, Villanueva said, the driver collected the full amount.
Senining, however, said during the investigation that he didn’t know about the new LTFRB order.
“Music man gud pirmi akong gipaminaw. Wa man ko’y balita. Di man ko ganahan og balita (I listen only to music, not news),” Senining told dyLA radio.
Since it was a first offense, Senining was required to pay P1,000. The taxi operator will be fined P5,000, and the order will be deemed final after 72 hours if the driver and the operator do not contest it.
Some taxi passengers welcomed the reduction, which took effect more than half a year after fuel prices began dropping.
Gino Capillas, a call center agent, said the P10 rollback will be a huge help to workers; he supports his younger siblings in Bohol.
Josh Roble, a nursing student in Velez, also welcomed the LTFRB’s move, which would be “a big help for us to lessen expenses.”
Not all drivers were as positive.
Johnny Marcella, who has been driving a taxi for nearly 10 years, said he needs to make P1,030 a day to rent the cab for 18 hours, plus P800 for the gas.
With the flagdown reduced, he said he didn’t expect to make the P700 per day that he used to earn, after the cab rental and fuel costs.
Tony Nellama, originally from Negros Occidental, said he didn’t mind the rate cut so much because some passengers didn’t ask for it, even if they knew about it. He has been driving a taxi for almost five years. (With Gizelle Onrejas, NSU AB Comm. Intern)