RILES Network slams MRT and LRT fare increase; Billions worth of pasalubong for contractors at the expense of commuters

11 May

Members of the RILES Network condemned the recent maneuverings to increase the fares of LRT and MRT, and ensure the “welcoming gifts” for prospective contractors should the plan to privatize the light rail systems push through. Fares are bound to increase to up to P30 based on the decision of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Riles Network Spokesperson Sammy Malunes said that the LTFRB and the DOTC had treacherously disregarded the results of the public consultation with the LRT Administration last February 4 and 5. Various sectors had submitted their positions calling for the junking of the proposal to increase fares citing the purpose of the LRT and MRT to provide affordable and efficient mass transport for the riding public. Overwhelmingly, the LRTA conceded to the fact that the increase in fares will be contrary to the interest of the riding public especially the poor.

“They did not follow the process. If they want to increase fares, the regulatory board which in this case is the LTFRB, should hear the arguments of both proponents and oppositors before rendering their decision. The DOTC which oversees both the regulatory body and the proponent LRTA violated this. There were no public hearings. They are just shoving the fare hike down to the throats of the riding public.”
Malunes also reminded the DOTC and the LRTA of the warning posed by senators during the hearing of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises that it is wrong to increase the fares of LRT and MRT to pave the way for the entry of private businesses and contractors. Members of the Senate believe that the DOTC is offering a “pasalubong” or welcome gift for prospective buyers and contractors of the LRT. The Senate also said that the 2012 budget was approved to continue the operations of LRT and MRT as part of the services provided by the national government.
“Rich businessmen are being fed like like kings while the riding public, the poor, are being squeezed dry. This causes the big gap on the income of the rich and the poor,” Malunes said.
According to a report on the Forbes magazine, the income of the 25 wealthiest Filipino businessmen worth P24.4 billion is equivalent to the total income of 55.4 million Filipinos. This gap, Malunes said, illustrates the monopoly of the wealthy few over the country’s wealth.
RILES Network said that Pres. Aquino has proven himself to be the patron of big businesses by ensuring their interests on the privatization of MRT and LRT, and to the huge profits that they may amass from it. “Just as he announced his tiny and senseless gift of P22 additional cost of living allowance for workers, he immediately negates its impact with the approval of the fare increase that will amount to P28 additional cost for daily transportation cost. What then is the government for if Pres. Aquino’s policies are meant to bring us further hardships?”

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