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Dismiss Ayala-Pangilinan’s AFPI not LRT workers – commuter group

26 Aug

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Railway commuter group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network called on Department of Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade to rescind the contract with private fare collection concessionaire AF Payments Incorporated following the Ayala-Pangilinan led firm’s failure to render efficient service which has led to the dismissal of 41 Light Rail Transit employees last June.

“We call on DOTr secretary Tugade to rescind the government’s onerous contract with AFPI. This privatization contract has already resulted in unjust fare increases in exchange for a sluggish fare collection system. Now, their sloppy and futile service has caused the loss of jobs of 41 workers” Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson, said.

The Light Rail Manila Corporation dismissed 41 of its workers after the state-run company allegedly incurred losses due to unconfirmed ticket sales which is being managed by the AFPI.

“It is enraging that workers are being blamed for the failures of profit-greedy private corporations. It is the privatization contract with the Ayalas and the Pangilinans that should be dismissed not the workers,” Malunes said.

The commuter group insisted that the unjust dismissal of LRT workers are just some of the ills of the privatized setting of the country’s railway system and warned that further privatization of the LRT could lead to more burdens for workers and the riding public.

“Privatization is a bane not only to the riding public but to workers and the entire Filipino people as well. The onerous privatization contracts entered with private big corporations has led to burdensome fare hikes, deterioration of service, and gross violations of railway workers’ rights and welfare” Malunes said.

RILES Network challenged the Duterte administration to rescind all onerous LRT and MRT privatization contracts signed by previous governments saying the change commuters want is the nationalization of the country’s mass transport system.

“We call on President Duterte to end the rule of oligarchs in the country’s railway system. They have already caused enough ills to the riding public and the Filipino people. The change that commuters want from this administration is a nationalized safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system” Malunes said. ###

Ease traffic, takeover MRT-LRT

5 Oct

Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network staged a protest action this morning at the MRT North Avenue Station in order to launch what it calls the “People’s Campaign for Government Takeover of the MRT-LRT” which it said is more timely given the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila.

“Tama na ang kapalpakan sa MRT at LRT. Sobra na ang matinding trapiko. Panahon na para i-takeover ng gobyerno ang MRT at LRT at pahusayin ang serbisyo ng mga ito. Malaking hakbang ito sa pagpapaluwag ng trapiko,” said Sammy Malunes, the network’s spokesperson.

RILES Network was joined by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide or PISTON in asking the passengers to sign a petition containing the demand.

In the protest, the group reiterated its opposition. The action takes place exactly 9 months following the implementation of the MRT-LRT fare hike which, the group claimed, is only the beginning.

“The fare hikes are oppresive,” said Sammy Malunes, spokesperson of the network. “It’s a clear attack on working people.”

After the next increase projected for 2016, a round-trip on the LRT 1 between Roosevelt and Buendia will amount to PHP 65 or 14% of the daily minimum wage. According to the Ibon Foundation, a 2007 survey revealed that 68% of MRT and LRT passengers were in fact low-income earners, i.e., earners of less than PHP 10,000 per month.

Though the concession agreement imposes a schedule of regular fare hikes, Malunes explained, the concessionaires still cut corners on rail system maintenance to save money. In doing so they put commuters at risk. Malunes indicated in particular the MRT concessionaires’ refusal to replace the signaling system. This monitors train movements in order prevent collisions.

During 2000-2013, MRT concessionaires benefited from PHP 32.5 billion in equity rental payments by the government, while during this same period these concessionaires made no significant improvements on the rail system.

RILES Network calls out the LRT 1 privatization as economically irrational, citing that before it was privatized, it was economically self-sufficient. It operated in 2013 with an average farebox ratio of 1.29 (a ratio of 1 indicates 100% recovery of management and operations costs). Its revenue exceeded its expenses without yet accounting for non-rail income (e.g. advertising, leases, etc.).

“This kind of irrationality is exactly why we’re calling for a government takeover of the MRT-LRT now. It should be a service to the people, not a vehicle for the profits of the few.”

Let us denounce the P7.5 billion sovereign guarantee in LRT contract

10 Sep

The Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network strongly condemns the recently-uncovered P7.5 billion sovereign guarantee that the Aquino government plans to pay the Pangilinan-Ayala consortium Light Rail Manila Corporation.

We are calling on the public to condemn this most unconscionable use of public funds sourced from the taxes of all Filipinos. The sovereign guarantee will benefit a few big capitalists at the expense of the Filipino taxpayer.

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The huge amount is unfair to the Filipino people who will shoulder the said cost. It is a clear evidence of the Aquino government’s collusion with big capitalists. The Aquino government willingly entered into a 32-year contract that’s onerous to Filipinos and one-sidedly favors big capitalists.

We find it revolting that while LRMC can pay only P935 million in concession fee at the start of the contract, the government has the obligation to pay penalties to the consortium should it fail to deliver on the contents of the agreement.

We are also aghast that the Aquino government alloted P30 billion to its so-called Risk Management Program Fund. This fund is nothing less than government subsidy for the profits of big capitalists under its Private-Public Partnership program.

Here we see one of the reasons why Filipinos suffer from heavy traffic. The Aquino government treats mass transportation as an opportunity for big capitalists to amass huge profits, not as a social service that should be provided to the Filipino people.###

RILES Network hit looming PNR fare hike

11 Mar

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Commuters’ group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network trooped the executive office of the Philippine National Railways in Manila to protest the impending fare hike in the country’s commuter railway service.

 

According to RILES Network spokesperson Sammy Malunes, the PNR fare hike is unacceptable to the riding public claiming it is an additional burden to PNR commuters and would only go to pockets of corrupt officials and private corporations.

 

“There is no justifiable reason to increase fares in the PNR. It is another burden to commuters who are mostly workers with meager wages. The increase would not even be used to improve the railway’s service but to pay PNR’s debts to private corporations” Malunes said.

 

The commuter group expressed outrage over the Aquino government’s reason for increasing fares which according to PNR General Manager Joseph Allan Dilay, is to pay its accumulated debts to private contractors.

 

“It is enraging that we commuters are being forced to pay PNR’s debts. We do not even know where these debts were spent because it was obviously not used to at least ease the rapidly decaying conditions of the railway service” Malunes said.

 

RILES insisted that with its fare box ratio alone, the PNR has sufficient funds for its operations. The PNR was also given additional allocation from the 2015 national budget for its rehabilitation.

 

“For the longest time, the government has abandoned the country’s commuter railway service and let it become a milking cow of corrupt government officials and private contractors. Now they want us to pay more for a rotten railway service?” said Malunes.

 

The commuter group meanwhile demanded that instead of increasing fares, the government should increase its subsidy for the PNR to ensure that is rehabilitated, and maintained well for the safety and protection of the riding public.

 

“The country’s commuter railway system is a public utility and service which is essential not only to PNR commuters but to the country’s economy as well. It is the government’s obligation to subsidize the railway’s operation, maintenance and improvement” Malunes said. ###

Privatization, not low fares caused decay of MRT-LRT – RILES

5 Mar

Commuter group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network refuted the Aquino government’s claim that cheap fares is the cause in the deterioration of the MRT and LRT, saying the poor conditions of the country’s elevated railway system is caused by its privatization.

Photo from Jacque Manabat of ABS-CBN News

Photo from Jacque Manabat of ABS-CBN News

In a forum dubbed “Political will or midnight deal?: Legislators’ forum and media briefing on the Aquino-Ayala-Pangilinan LRT Concession Agreement,” hosted by RILES Network and the Alliance against LRT Privatization, RILES spokesperson Sammy Malunes blamed the privatized setting of the MRT and LRT for the elevated railway system’s inefficient service.

“The Aquino government should stop mouthing these baseless alibis to try to justify the LRT’s privatization and the burdensome fare hike. The MRT and LRT are in a dreadful condition because they were abandoned by the government. What should have been a public service was turned into a private business,” Malunes said.

RILES insisted that MRT and LRT fares in the last years have been more than enough to cover for its operation and maintenance, citing the LRT’s average farebox ratio of 1.25 from 2009-2013 while 81% of the MRT’s expenditures goes directly to the government’s financial obligations to private big businesses because of onerous contracts.

“The recent consecutive accidents in the MRT are the results of the Aquino government’s neglect for the riding public. The Aquino government has allowed the Metro Rail Transit Corporation and its private maintenance service provider APT Global to continuously profit from neglecting commuters’ safety and protection,” said Malunes.

RILES also slammed the LRT privatization contract between the Aquino government and the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium, which it described as “absolute state abandonment” of a basic public service which would give more burdens and pose more dangers to commuters.

“The LRT privatization is another bane to commuters. Through a lopsided Public-Private Partnership contract, Aquino forces us to pay higher fares and taxes under anti-commuter schemes such as the users-pay and the periodic fare adjustments,” Malunes said.

The commuter group meanwhile expressed hope that the forum with lawmakers and media people would be helpful to commuters in opposing the LRT privatization. The RILES Network also asked lawmakers to side with the riding public in the fight for a safe, efficient and affordable mass transport system. ###

[On the 29th EDSA anniv] MRT-LRT fare hike and privatization slammed anew

23 Feb

In its weekly protest against MRT and LRT fare hikes, commuter group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network commemorated the 29th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power by calling on the Aquino government to rollback MRT and LRT fares and to stop the privatization of the country’s railway system.

In a protest they called “EDSA para sa masa”, RILES network claimed that the fare hikes and the privatization of the MRT and LRT is in contrast with what the Filipino people have fought for in the People Power uprising.

“The fare hikes and the privatization of the MRT and LRT are against the interest of the riding public and the entire Filipino people. By increasing fares without consultations and by handing over public utilities to private businesses, the Aquino government and his private big capitalist cohorts are imposing their dictatorial rule over the riding public” Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson said.

RILES also asked commuters from different MRT and LRT stations to show their protest against the fare hike and privatization by signing in their petition aiming to gather 1 million signatures calling on the Aquino government to rollback MRT-LRT fares and to stop the privatization of the country’s railway system.

“We call on our fellow commuters to relive the spirit of EDSA. We must unite as a nation against the Aquino government’s dictatorial imposition of the anti-people fare hike. We must unite and fight Aquino’s sellout of the LRT and MRT which puts private gains over public interests” Malunes said.

The commuter group meanwhile slammed the Aquino government for allowing the Metro Rail Transit Corporation and its private maintenance service provider APT Global to profit from neglecting commuters’ safety and protection and blamed the recent accidents in the MRT on the privatized setting of the country’s railway system.

“The recent consecutive accidents in the MRT are clearly resulted by the Aquino government’s criminal neglect for the riding public. It allowed its private big business partners to make a milking cow out of the railway system even if it means undermining commuters’ safety” said Malunes.

RILES claimed that as the MRT-LRT fare hike continues to burden the riding public, more and more commuters are joining their weekly protests and vowed that these protests will continue until the Aquino government heed their demand to rollback fares and stop the privatization of the MRT and LRT. ###

One million signatures vs. MRT-LRT fare hike vowed

16 Feb

10974515_10205375618342785_3821187813527334145_oCarrying on with protests against fare hikes in the MRT and LRT, a commuters’ group held pickets this morning at various train stations in Metro Manila to launch a signature drive for a rollback in fares and a stop to the train systems’ privatization.

The Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network said it hopes to gather one million signatures of MRT and LRT commuters which it will present before the Supreme Court, the Department of Transportation and Communications, and other government agencies.

It said it is working with other groups such as the Train Riders Network or TREN, youth groups Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students, and national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno for the signature drive.

“We are calling on the public to join protests against the MRT-LRT fare hikes by signing our petition. Let us show the Supreme Court and various government agencies that we are calling for a rollback in fares and a stop to the train systems’ privatization,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson.

The group carried big cut-out letters spelling “TRO NOW!” as it called on the Supreme Court anew to act on the petition for a Temporary Restraining Order against the fare hikes, which it filed together with progressive organizations last January 5, the first Monday of the fare hikes’ implementation.

“As the Supreme Court continues to refuse to issue a TRO, we vow to present to the public more ways of participating in the protests. We call on the public to sustain our protests and continue to make our voices heard,” Malunes added.

The RILES Network said the Aquino government’s excuses for the fare hikes fail to convince the public as more and more people know about how the train systems’ privatization will benefit a few capitalists.

“We also vow to intensify our information and education drive in schools, communities, offices and factories. We trust that more people will speak up and join protests against the fare hike because this is not about improving the train systems’ services, but about ensuring the profits of a few big capitalists,” Malunes stated.###

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