3 transport groups seek P5 fare increase
MANILA, Philippines — Three transport groups on Tuesday filed a formal petition for a P5 fare increase and a provisional P1 fare hike for traditional jeepney units in the National Capital Region before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) central office in Quezon City.
In their petition, Pasang Masda, Altodap, and ACTO asked for a P5 fare hike for the first four kilometers, which will increase the minimum fare from P12 to P17, and an additional P1 for the succeeding kilometer.
The transport groups also urged the LTFRB to issue an order granting a provisional adjustment to the current minimum fare of P12 to P13, pending the notice and hearing of their petition.
Aside from the oil price hikes, they cited the “increased paying capacity” of the commuters following the minimum wage increase recently implemented in Metro Manila.
“Clearly, by granting this provisional fare increase the transport workers will experience the long years of prayer for a reasonable income to at least ease their everyday fuel expenses, higher costs of operation and to provide a sustainable living to their families,” the petition reads in part.
After conducting a hearing on the petitions filed for fare increase on Tuesday afternoon, the LTFRB told transport groups to submit a formal petition instead of a letter on their request for fare adjustment for public utility jeepneys.
Further review needed
LTFRB Chair Teofilo Guadiz III stressed that the agency was open to hearing the appeal of transport groups amid soaring fuel prices but noted that they also need to balance the effect of the fare increase on commuters.
The LTFRB earlier said the petitions would still need to undergo further review by other economic agencies in the government like the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
“Every fare increase has an economic impact and that is what has to be studied carefully by other government agencies such as the Neda in order to come up with a fare increase that is justifiable and will not create a huge economic burden,” Guadiz said.
According to the LTFRB, several transport groups consisting of the Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas, Pagkakaisa ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide, Stop & Go Transport Coalition Incorporated and The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines submitted a letter requesting for a P2 fare increase for all PUJs nationwide two weeks ago.
As this developed, the Department of Budget and Management is awaiting the rules and regulations for the release of government subsidies to public utility drivers and operators affected by the rising cost of fuel.
In a briefing in Malacañang, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the LTFRB would issue the memorandum circular, which will be the basis for the release of the budget for the subsidies under the Pantawid Pasada Program.
“The funding is available. It’s just in General Appropriations Act (GAA), the LTFRB must issue the circular and there is not yet as of now. We need a copy because it is [required] under the GAA. We cannot release [the budget] without that,” Pangandaman said.
She added that she informed Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista last week about the requirement and that he told her that the previous circular would be reissued with “not much” amendments.