Jeepney drivers bat for P2 fare hike to offset oil price increases
FIVE transport groups filed a petition for a P2 fare hike—immediately opposed—before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), raising the minimum jeepney fare from P8 to P10.
Pasang Masda president Roberto “Obet” Martin said the petition was in preparation for the impending increase in prices of petroleum products and increase in the prices of auto spare parts.
The transport groups, Pasang Masda, Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap), League of Transport Operators of the Philippines (LTAP), Alliance of Concerned
Transport Organizations (Acto) and Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Altodap) filed the petition, citing increase in fuel prices.
The transport groups want the LTFRB to raise the fare by P2 for the first 4 kilometers and 35 centavos for every succeeding kilometer, making the succeeding km P1.75 from the current P1.35.
But a militant lawmaker immediately opposed the P2 fare hike.
“This is always the consequence of the unimpeded oil price hikes, thus, we seriously hold the government primarily culpable for this proposal that would undoubtedly impact the poor public,” Anakpawis Party-List Rep. Ariel Casilao said.
Casilao lamented what he observed was the Duterte administration’s helplessness to arrest the oil price hikes, as it was silent on proposals to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law that said to have empowered foreign monopoly oil firms to jack up prices of petroleum products.
“This is what we have been asserting since last year, that the President should veer away from his neoliberal economic managers as their proposals are detrimental to the people, and now, we hold him accountable,” Casilao said.
The petition is only for the increase fare in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon (Region 3), Calabarzon (Region 4a), and Mimaropa (Region 4b).
The labor group Alliance of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said it would not object the P2 fare petition because it would go through the process of determination whether there was a need or necessity for such an increase.
“We understand the plight of our jeepney drivers and their families amid rising fuel prices and rising prices of goods and services. We have no objection to the filing of the petition to increase,” ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said.
“As to how much should be the equivalent increase, there must be a thorough study on the amount of the increase,” Tanjusay said.
“We expect the LTFRB to involve labor groups in the consultation on the petition,” he added.
Citing data, Casilao said from January to August, gas prices hiked a total of P6.60 and rolled backed with P5.95 per liter, resulting to a P0.65 net hike, while diesel hiked P7.20 and rolled back with P6.50, resulting net P0.70 per liter.
Adding the increases since August of P1.7 for gas prices, it reached to a net P2.35 per liter, while diesel with P2.20, with a net of P2.90 per liter.
But basing on the Department of Energy Price Watch, year-to-year hike of lowest prices from August 2016 to August 2017, posted P2.25 per liter for gas, and P4.10 per liter for diesel.
Instead of hiking the minimum fare, Casilao supported the proposal of Piston group, that is either ordering the oil firms to give public utility vehicles a P5-discount on diesel products, or suspend or a moratorium on the charging of Value-Added Tax.
VAT is pegged at 12 percent on petroleum products that is estimated at about P4.
“The irony of oil price hikes is the government is also a beneficiary as its VAT collection surges,” Casilao said.
In 2011, VAT collection amounted to P44 billion to P70 billion according to Congress. Hence, the government and oil firms were both receivers of the upward trend in oil prices.
Aside from increasing oil prices and proposed fare hike, a P0.85-power rate hike was affected by Meralco, and a P3-water rate hike being pushed by Maynilad.
“It is baffling what change the president was promising about when his programs and policies were same old formulae of anti-people neoliberal policies generative poverty and misery to the people,” Casilao added.