Taxi drivers to hold protests vs fare cut Wednesday
MANILA — Taxi drivers will stage nationwide protests on Wednesday against the fare cut ordered by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), citing losses of at least P1,300 per day when implemented and the recent climb in oil prices.
During a hearing at the LTFRB on Tuesday, at least three taxi groups expressed opposition to the order making the P30 flag-down rate permanent and effectively reducing the running time rate of P3.50 by lengthening the distance from 300 meters to 500 meters.
The LTFRB March 8 order cut down from 120 seconds to 90 seconds the waiting time rate of P3.50, in recognition of traffic congestion affecting the drivers’ turnaround.
“The passenger can just leave the taxi when they get stuck in traffic,” said Jun Magno, president of Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator ng Pilipinas Genuine Organization (Stop and Go).
“The drivers will lose a lot because of the fare cut order. At the same time, gasoline prices are now going up,” Magno said.
The Stop and Go petition is asking to reinstate the P40 flag-down and increase the waiting time rate to P5.50 per 120 seconds.
According to Magno, Stop and Go has 10,000 members and they’re aiming to get at least 50 percent of their members to join the protests at the LTFRB main office on East Avenue, Quezon City, and in regional offices in Iloilo, Cebu and Davao.
Taxi drivers from the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) will also join the protests “in order to protect their right to earn a decent living,” according to PNTOA president and Quezon City Councilor Bong Suntay.
PNTOA lawyer Alex Versoza said they would file a motion for reconsideration to challenge the computation of the LTFRB. He said that a liter of gasoline would cover 10 kilometers. And that while drivers may spend P10 less per liter of gasoline, they would lose P56 in the new fare rate, according to Versoza.
When multiplied to an average of 30 trips per day, the income lost would reach P1,300, Versoza said.
Fermin Octobre, president of the Drivers Unite for Mass Progress and Equal Rights (DUMPER), said the LTFRB did not do a trial run in the provinces where the usual trip would cover only three kilometers.
“The LTFRB decision has put the drivers in a bind. We don’t understand how they arrived at the distance rate. It’s a big loss for us,” Octobre said.
Octobre said DUMPER voluntarily filed for the P10 provisional rollback in flag-down rate in January 2015. The group’s latest petition is to revert to the P40 flag-down without increase in the succeeding rates.
“We’re also thinking of the passengers’ welfare so we’re not asking for an increase. In 2012, gasoline prices went up to P56 but no petition for fare hike was filed. Now, gasoline prices are going up again. We hope the LTFRB will hold the fare cut order,” Octobre said. SFM
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