By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – I live in the south of Manila. I travel to work in Quezon City for at least two hours. I am also one of the million passengers of the MRT. While the tollways in the south have already increased their toll fees, the MRT fares are about to increase their fare next month.
This has left me wondering: What’s next for the commuters like me coming from the south? A decrease in our budget because of high transportation costs. As one mother told me, “What we earn is not enough to feed my family, how much more to send them to school or work? Nothing, not a single cent, will be left for our other needs.”
It’s always a chain reaction. The toll fees increase and transport fares are likely to go up. The passengers, the public, are carrying the burden of government incompetence and the scourge of privatization. And President Aquino was chosen as Filipino of the year? When he cannot even control the nonstop increase of the prices of almost everything. As my colleague put it, WTF?
The public consultation held the other day, on Feb. 4, between officials from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and Light Railway Transit Authority (LRTA) and students from different universities and colleges was a failure. Rafael Rodriguez, LRTA administrator, only gave dramatic gestures and rhetoric, saying that they would study and weigh things. But the truth came out from his own mouth: that the increase in the fare will push through no matter what.
Another official, this time from the DOTC, said during the consultation: “We are here today because we are under a new administration. We will listen to you.” The youth and other sectors have spoken: they do not want another fare increase. But did you listen?
Aquino promised to take Filipinos to the “straight path” under his administration. But it should be obvious now that this is nothing but an empty promise.
I have been covering the protest actions against the increase in the prices of basic commodities, as well as the increase in transport fares. I have often been tempted to chant with the activists as a sign of my own protest.