“This push for a fare hike, which comes in the wake of significant increases in the prices of LPG and other petroleum products and proposals for a record-high power rate hike by Meralco, is part of the economic disaster that the Aquino government is cooking up against the majority of Filipinos,”
BY MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — As the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) prepares to hold a public consultation, a consumer group fears it might be used as an occasion instead for announcing MRT-LRT fare hikes.
“We are disgusted that despite the declaration of a state of national calamity over the country, the Aquino government still callously insists on pushing the are hikes in the MRT and LRT,” said Sammy T. Malunes, convenor and spokesman of consumer group RILES Network.
The group has long opposed the Aquino government’s planned approval of a fare hike in the railways system. It had held picket-protests in selected MRT and LRT stations and conducted petition-signing to block the fare hike. The group has also come out with its own research into the finances of the railways operations, and it had concluded as well as shown proofs that there is no need for a fare hike.
“This push for a fare hike, which comes in the wake of significant increases in the prices of LPG and other petroleum products and proposals for a record-high power rate hike by Meralco, is part of the economic disaster that the Aquino government is cooking up against the majority of Filipinos,” Malunes said.
Citing how for years, the public has successfully blocked fare hikes in the MRT and LRT through various protests both in the streets and online, the group RILES Network vowed to continue and intensify these protests against this renewed push for a fare hike.
“We reiterate our basic stand: A fare hike in the MRT and LRT will not be used to improve the service being provided by the train systems. It will only go to the big capitalist profits and big bank interests that are guaranteed by the contracts for the train system’s construction and maintenance.”
RILES Network blamed the onerous contracts entered into by the government for the train systems’ construction and maintenance as the first immediate reasons why the MRT and LRT have to increase fares even as these train systems are swamped by passengers all the time, and as such, evidently making profits.
Rather than raise the fares for MRT and LRT, the consumer group has been urging the Aquino government to “junk the onerous contracts” instead, and effect a government takeover of the MRT and LRT from today’s private control.