Still no SC TRO vs train fare hike
MANILA, Philippines–Train riders will have to wait as the Supreme Court has not issued the temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by the groups opposing the recent fare increase for the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 and the Metro Rail Transit.
The tribunal on Tuesday instead ordered concerned government officials to submit their comment within 10 days on the consolidated petitions and the application for a TRO against the fare adjustments that took effect Jan. 4, according to court spokesman Theodore Te.
The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), one of the petitioners, expressed dismay over the “delay” in the issuance of the TRO against the “illegal increase.”
“The commuters’ woes will thus continue,” Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said Tuesday. “How disappointing indeed that the interests of the poor were not upheld.”
Reyes said the government and corporations granted rights to operate the trains would surely make more profit out of the fare increase with the throngs of people expected to use the trains during the visit of Pope Francis later this week.
“Shameful indeed,” he added.
Lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers called it a “big letdown.”
“The agony of commuters will be prolonged,” Olalia said. “The law must also have mercy and compassion (an apparent reference to theme of the papal visit), especially for the poor.”
Named respondents in the petitions are Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT 3) Officer-in-Charge Renato San Jose and Light Rail Transit Authority Administrator Honorito Chaneco.
Four separate petitions were filed by Bayan, the Bayan Muna party-list group, former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr., and the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters Inc.
The petitioners sought the immediate issuance of a TRO to suspend the implementation of the new rates while the court deliberates on the petition, which also cited the respondents for alleged grave abuse of discretion.
They claimed that the fare increases were imposed without prior public consultation and that Abaya issued the order imposing the new rates on Dec. 18, while the public was busy preparing for the holidays.
The adjustment increased the train fares by 50 to 87 percent, with the base charge set at P11 plus P1 per succeeding kilometer.
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