Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr. also blamed the government’s policy of privatizing infrastructure development and operations for the already exorbitant rates facing tollway users. The state-owned Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) used to operate the SLEX concession until (government) regulators transferred the authority to operate it to the Manila Toll Expressway System (or Mates) in November 2009.
Infrastructure plays a major role in making the economy viable and capable of providing for its people, Reyes said. “Despite its importance to development, however, infrastructure has been the favorite sector up for privatization by the national government,” he noted.
San Mateo said expenses incurred by private companies for the development of road projects should not be passed on to motorists. “It is the responsibility of the government to improve infrastructures including roads. The citizens are already paying road users’ tax every year. It would be like double taxation if they are asked to pay more on top of that,” San Mateo said.
Aquino’s promised change in his campaign now appears to mean as change in the current prices of toll fees as well as in fares in MRT and LRT, said San Mateo. “Aquino promised when he assumed office that there would be no added tax and that we, the people, are his boss.” Based on the Aquino government’s drive to collect VAT even from toll fees and hike these fees, it seems Aquino is doing the opposite, San Mateo said.
(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
In the light of the possibly of just a 10-day reprieve from the double whammy of toll fee hikes with the expiration of the TRO, San Mateo urged the public to continue opposing the “unjust” hikes and the imposition of VAT on toll fees.
“The SLEX toll hike should not be implemented because the people is already reeling from a terrible crisis. This adjustment in toll fees would be an additional burden to the jeepney drivers and other public transport drivers as well as to private motorists and those who transport goods such as vegetables, fruits, rice, petroleum products and other basic needs,” San Mateo said.
If the government continues to impose e-vat in all express toll ways and increase toll fees in SLEX, price increases would ensue as transport costs of goods that pass through these toll ways would likely jack up. On top of toll fee hikes, San Mateo reminded the public that oil companies also often increase prices of oil.
Elmer Labog, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairman, said, “Filipinos are doubly burdened with unabated hikes in oil prices and with the looming 300 percent toll fee hike in the South Luzon Expressway or SLEX, while capitalists stand to doubly reap profits from these schemes.”
“Jeepney drivers and operators have been paying its franchise every five years. Registration fees are also being collected every year by the Land Transportation Office,” said San Mateo. Increasing toll fees and applying e-vat in express ways would not only be a burden to drivers but to commuters and the rest of the nation’s citizen as well.
Drivers cannot immediately impose increases on transport fares, because their family members would also be adversely affected, Piston said. For example, they cited the increase in MRT and LRT fares which affects almost all their family members who use these as means for faster transportation. Members of Piston said considering that the workers’ demand for wage increases had not been granted, “How can their lives improve with all those prices going high up,” Baylon said. (Bulatlat.com)