[Monday protests vs MRT/LRT fare hike] Network cites 5 reasons why fare hike must be junked

12 Aug

Amidst heavy rains brought by Typhoon “Labuyo,” commuter group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network pushed through with its Monday protests this morning to encourage MRT and LRT commuters to protest the looming fare hike in the train systems, saying the hike can be stopped only through protests.

“Since 2010, the Aquino administration has been pushing for a fare increase in the MRT and LRT. All its attempts remain futile, however, because of massive protests from the riding public,” Sammy Malunes, RILES Network convenor, said.

“Aquino is ever more determined than ever to push through with the fare hike now. That’s why the riding public must also be more determined to stop him through our protests,” he added.

Malunes laid out five reason why commuters should oppose the looming MRT and LRT fare hike: 

  1. The MRT and the LRT has the sufficient income to maintain, improve and expand operations. The real cost of a single ride ticket, which already covers the maintenance and operation, is only P9.50. Collections exceeding this amount go directly to profits.
  2. The planned fare hike would not be used to improve service in the MRT/LRT but to pockets of private corporations and foreign banks guaranteed by onerous contracts signed with the government. Every year, the government pays the MRT Corporation P5.2 billion in equity rentals plus a yearly 15% guaranteed return of investments. Filipino taxpayers also pay for the MRTC’s debts to foreign banks amounting to P12.32 billion.
  3. The fare hike is a burden to the riding public. The riding public, composed mostly of workers and students, is already burdened by the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services while being deprived of significant wage hike. Government data show that 63% of MRT/LRT commuters are workers while 35% are students.
  4. It is a step towards the privatization. The fare hike is being pushed by the government to attract more investors by showing that it can guarantee huge profits for big business. The MRT/LRT extension project is yet the biggest and most grand privatization project under the administration’s Public-Private Partnership program. Privatization of the MRT and LRT would mean higher fares and more onerous and corrupt contracts.
  5. Lastly, it is the duty of the government to provide a safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system.

The commuter group meanwhile announced that it will hold big protests on the dates of the public consultations that will be held by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) regarding the fare hike.

“We believe that the public consultation set by the DOTC would just be a public announcement. The government has been clear on its stand to increase fares and it will surely not address any opposition from the riding public. The so-called consultations are merely publicity stunts to justify the unjust and baseless increase,” Malunes said.

“These five main points will be raised by the commuters to the DOTC and the Aquino administration, not only in the bogus consultations but most of all in the mass protest that will be held in the streets” he added.

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