MRT fare hike will only pay debts, militants say

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MANILA, Philippines—Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has reiterated that the planned fare increase for Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 would be used to service debts and not improve railway services.

The group was reacting to a report that the Department of Transportation and Communications was set to conduct public hearings on a proposed fare hike for MRT Line 3 and Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 by between P7 and P10 over two years.

“Before any talk of a fare increase, the government must first answer why we are continuously paying for questionable debt born of an onerous contract with the private developers of the MRT,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. in a statement.

Bayan cited MRT financial statements from 2011 to 2012 showing loan amortization expenses totaling P10.05 billion in 2011 and P6.75 billion in 2012.

The biggest item in the loan expense was the equity rental payments to the private firms that built the train line.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, however, said this would be addressed by the estimated $1 billion buyout of private sector stakeholders who own a controlling equity stake in MRT3.

According to Bayan, the original proponents of MRT 3 were private local and Japanese corporations which formed the consortium Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC).

“These investors made a killing because the government guaranteed payments to the banks that financed the project,” said Bayan.

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