Solutions to Dreaded Toll Fee Hikes
The groups said the Philippine government should just return to the private toll developers, the MTD Capital Berhad, their “real expenditures” in the upgrade of parts of the SLEX toll roads. And then the government should take-over the management and control of the country’s toll roads, as these constitute a “public service” and a basic need that “should remain affordable at all times.”
“There is no need for a toll fee hike,” said lawyer Francisco, reasoning that in the first place, the supposed outlay for the roads’ upgrading should not have been that huge that “the SLTC could not explain it.”
Because of lack of transparency and failure to finish the project as agreed upon, “the Philippine government has reason to terminate the project contract with the developer,” said Francisco.
Atty. Ernesto Francisco will file a motion for reconsideration of SC ruling on SLEX toll hike. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
According to law, public utilities should not be allowed to earn too much, Francisco said. Yet, he pointed to the six-year payback period allowed for the private developer in the contract they signed with the government’s TRB. This means that for the next 24 years or for the remainder of the 30-year contract, the toll collections (of the SLTC) would be purely profit, Francisco said.
On top of that, Francisco and San Mateo both pointed to discrepancies in costing of the SLEx upgrade as reported by the private developer itself.
“Why pay for an anomalous project?” asked Medina. “Terminating the contract of the private developer of SLEx would send the message that the Philippine government will only do business in a transparent, orderly manner, without hints of corruption or overpricing,” she said.
Considering the seemingly anomalous and one-sided nature of the public-private contract of the government and MTD Capital Berhad, George San Mateo reiterated the “seriousness” of their opposition. “We Filipinos would be forced to bear with it for 30 years, and new toll fee hikes, as per contract, may be exacted every two to three years.”
“It should be zero toll fee hike, there is no room for defeat (for us). We would do anything,” said Medina of the commuters’ group.
It is not true that the Philippine government cannot afford to develop its toll roads, said the groups. They pointed to the road users’ tax, the pork barrel and the budget for conditional cash transfer as likely sources for funds. The groups also asked the government to re-impose oil tariff, to further source funds for road development.
The new alliance vowed to launch varied kinds of protests and urged the public to join the opposition to the toll fee hikes. (Bulatlat.com)