Protesters refuse to pay new toll feesBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Militant groups greeted the first day of the implementation of higher toll in expressways with protest action around noon Saturday.
The demonstrators highlighted their opposition to the oppressive tax by passing through the Alabang tollway southbound exit in the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) but refused to pay the new toll rate.
A brief standoff occurred before tollway tellers and security officers lifted the barrier and allowed the protesters’ convoy to pass.
Among the groups that joined the protest action included Taxpayers’ Unity Against Toll Fee Hike in the South Luzon Expressway (Tutol-SLEx) and the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).
They were later joined by militant youth groups, who mounted “planking”—lying face down on the pavement—to condemn the new toll rates, which they said would be a burden on ordinary Filipinos.
The activity caused a traffic build up in the area but the demonstrators dispersed peacefully after a while.
Carrying placards bearing the messages “No to 12% VAT on toll” and “Serbisyo sa tao, huwag gawing negosyo,” they also encouraged motorists and commuters to honk their horns and make noise to also show their opposition to the VAT.
“If the past presidents were able to suspend VAT on toll for years, why implement it under President Aquino amid worsening poverty?” said Sammy Malunes, Tutol-SLEx spokesperson.
The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) earlier gave the go-signal to the country’s toll road operators to charge the new rates despite protests from commuter groups, mass transport leaders and lawmakers.
The government expects to collect an additional P2 billion a year from VAT on toll.