Militants hold protest at MRT station over planned fare hike



MANILA, Philippines—Militant groups, led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, staged a mass action at a Metro Rail Transit station in Quezon City Friday to protest the impending increase in train fares.

“After the rain comes the deluge of price increases courtesy of the Aquino government. This regime is truly oppressive and cares little for the plight of the poor,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Secretary Joseph Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications announced that there was a planned P10 average increase for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 which would be done in two equal installments until 2014.

Reyes said the increase was to be implemented in August, after President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address, “possibly to avoid people’s protests.”

He argued that the core police of the Aquino administration was to “make big business happy, and the people miserable,” noting that the raised fare benefitted big lending institutions to which the profits would likely go.

“This will also serve as an incentive for prospective investors in the so-called public-private partnership for the LRT expansion,” Reyes added.

Bayan said that at the end of the day, the people’s price woes were rooted in the privatization policy of the government which, for example, has allowed water concessionaires to raise their rates every five years and allowed private train operators to have guaranteed profits throughout their period of operations.

The group also warned that an increase in rates would be met with huge protests at the president’s address before Congress in July.

Meanwhile, a radio report said the group conducted a signature campaign against the fare increase at the train stations during the rush hour.

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