Senators oppose MRT-LRT fare increase, tax on toll fees
MANILA, Philippines—Senators on Tuesday opposed the government’s plan to impose fare increases in the Light Rail Transit and (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) as well as the impending imposition of tax on toll fees in the country.
Senators Manny Villar, Joker Arroyo and Ralph Recto filed Senate Resolution 602 “Expressing the sense of the Senate for the deferment of the implementation to increase the fares of the LRT and the MRT and toll fees in the country’s expressways.”
In the resolution, the senators branded the planned fare adjustments in the MRT and LRT as “downright anti-poor.”
“Whereas, the fare adjustments will affect at least 1.2 million passengers in both the LRT and MRT lines, increasing the fares by as much as 100 percent and that the move is downright anti-poor since 70 percent of the affected commuters earn less than P10,000 a month,” it said.
Based on pubic hearings conducted by the Senate, the resolution said, “There is no need to increase this year the fares in the MRT and LRT rates.”
Instead, the senators through the resolution, recommended the following: for the LRTA and the MRT3 to generate more revenues by adding two railway systems and increase its non-rail revenues; reduce operating expenses of both the LRT and MRT lines; separate government agency that operates the two railway system and from the agency that regulates it; and make suitable steps to increase or improve the efficiency in the operations of the two railways.
Three more senators, including Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, backed the resolution.
“I will support it. The situation in the country is there’s too much burden on the public and I think that the government must be ready to subsidize public service for the benefit of the poor,” Enrile told reporters.
“Considering the cost of transportation in the country and uncontrolled prices of fuel for transportation, I think the government must sacrifice and be ready to subsidize the transportation needs of the people,” he added.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who is allied with the administration, also opposed any fare increase in the MRT and LRT rates.
“I’m in support of the belief and principle that there should be no increase at this time. Dapat last option yun (It must be last option),” he said in separate interview.
Escudero said the government must first explore the possibility of renegotiation or privatization of the contracts the two railways and maximize its income from their advertising revenues.
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