Commuters rally at SC, press for TRO vs. MRT-LRT fare hikes

10 Feb

In time for the Supreme Court’s en banc session today, a commuters’ group together with various sectoral organizations held a picket in front of the High Tribunal’s office along Padre Faura in Manila this morning to demand a Temporary Restraining Order against fare hikes in the MRT and LRT.

Photo from GMA News twitter account.

Photo from GMA News twitter account.


The Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network said that the SC should be able to act now on the petition it filed for a TRO last January 5, the day that the big-time increases in fares for the train systems took effect.

“It has been one month since the fare hikes were implemented and since we filed a petition for a TRO before the SC. The riding public and all Filipinos deserve a TRO now,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson.

RILES Network is among the various organizations which filed a petition for a TRO which claims that the Department of Transportation and Communications approved the fare hike without conducting public consultations on the matter.

“It is easy to see that the fare hikes are illegal, as the DOTC clearly failed to conduct public consultations. The SC could and should immediately issue a TRO against the fare hikes, which has increased the economic burden of commuters,” Malunes added.

The RILES Network also condemned the Aquino government for continuing to carry out the privatization of LRT-2, for which four groups – the Aboitiz Equity Ventures-SMRT Transport Solutions Consortium, DM Consunji Inc-Tokyo Metro Company Limited Consortium, LRM2 Consortium of Ayala Corporation and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), and San Miguel Corporation-Korail Consortium – have submitted their proposals.

“Privatization is again showing its true colors as a scheme detrimental to the public and beneficial to big capitalists and big bureaucrats in government. After suffering from the fare hikes, the public is now seeing the same big capitalists who rake in big profits from the government’s lopsided contracts getting ready to own more of the train systems,” Malunes said.

The group has claimed that top officials of the Aquino government are fast-tracking the privatization of the train systems in order to get their kickbacks for their campaign kitties for the 2016 national elections.###

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Commuters’ network continues with protests, press TRO vs. fare hike

9 Feb

More than a month after the fare hikes in the MRT and LRT took effect, a commuters’ network continued to hold protests at various stations of the train systems to demand a rollback in the fares.

Carrying giant letters that read “TRO NOW!” commuters’ group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network held a protest this morning at the SM North station of the MRT and other stations of the train systems and called on the Supreme Court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order against the fare hike.

photo from DZMMTeleradyo website

photo from DZMMTeleradyo website

“One month into the implementation of the MRT-LRT fare hike, we commuters still cannot accept that we are paying higher fares for what should be a form of government service to Filipinos. We are calling on the SC to issue a TRO against this most unjust fare hike. We demand a fare rollback,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson.

He said the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino and proponents of the fare hike are out to try to justify the move to the public in order to make the latter accept the significant jump in the fares for the MRT and LRT.

Malunes cited the statement of the Foundation for Economic Freedom that was published in the February 8 issue of thePhilippine Daily Inquirer, which states that fares in the train system should not be kept “below their economic value and marginal cost.”

“The FEF is trying to justify the wholesale privatization of government services that are most essential for Filipinos and are best provided by the government. It does not have a concept of social services and wants big capitalists to run these as businesses from which they can amass huge profits,” said Malunes.

The RILES Network said that the fare hike is a signal to the train systems’ privatization and that privatization, most noticibly in the power and water sectors most crucial to the economy, has only brought about higher payments for consumers and higher profits for big capitalists.

“Privatization has repeatedly meant bondage for consumers and further freedom for big capitalists. Fanatics of the free market like the FEF turn a blind eye to this fact, fully-focused as they are with increasing the profits of big capitalists,” Malunes added.

The group asked train commuters to continue using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to express their call for a rollback in fares in the MRT and LRT until their demand is met.

RILES to SC: TRO now!

2 Feb

Commuter group Riles Laan sa Sambyanan (RILES) Network today called on the Supreme Court to heed their petition for a Temporary Restraining Order against the MRT-LRT fare hike.

In a protest action at the MRT North Avenue station, RILES Network spokesperson Sammy Malunes said that the riding public has already suffered enough from the one month implementation of the burdensome fare hike.

“We call on the Supreme Court to heed our commuters’ demand to issue a TRO against the MRT-LRT fare hike. Our belts could no longer get anymore tighter. The government and their private big business partners in the MRT and LRT have already siphoned what’s left of our meager wages” Malunes said.

The commuter group also slammed the Aquino government for seeking a 30-day extension to submit a response on the petition for a TRO calling it a delaying tactic to maximize their benefits from the fare hike.

“In the first place, if they can’t explain it, then it should not have been implemented. The Aquino government has been pushing for the fare hike since it took office. If until now they still cannot explain before the courts and the riding public their basis for the fare hike, then there must really be something dubiously illegal about it” Malunes said.

The commuter group also recalled that the government has refused to accept their challenge for a public debate on the MRT-LRT fare hike last January.

RILES Network meanwhile claimed that instead of increasing, fare in the MRT and LRT should be rolled-back as the price of oil used to generate electricity for the railway system has dramatically decreased worldwide.

“MRT and LRT fares should be rolled-back not increased. While there are no reasonable explanations for the fare hike, the significant plunge of global oil prices, on the other hand is enough reason to roll-back the MRT and LRT fares” Malunes claimed.

The commuter group warned that the riding public would not simply accept the fare hike and that they are more than willing to hold bigger protests until the MRT-LRT fare hike is junked. ###

Learn from Pope Francis, junk anti-poor MRT-LRT fare hike

20 Jan

A day after Pope Francis’ visit to the country, commuter group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network called on the Aquino government to junk the MRT and LRT fare hike saying it is “anti-poor” and is against the Pope’s teachings.

“If the Aquino government learned anything from Pope Francis’ visit, it should immediately junk its anti-poor MRT and LRT fare hike. It is against the Pope’s teachings to further burden the poor just to fill the pockets of private big businesses and corrupt government officials” Sammy Malunes, RILES spokesperson said.

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Holding a system-wide noise barrage protest in different stations of the MRT and LRT, the RILES network claimed that the fare hike, which is now on its third week of implementation, would only go to the guaranteed profits of private contractors.

“Aquino’s fare hike is burdensome to us commuters who have long been impoverished by extremely low wages and high prices of goods and services. It is also unjust as the hike would only be used to guarantee the profits of private contractors as promised under onerous” Malunes said.

RILES Network also claimed that the fare hike would be used to fund President Aquino’s bets for the 2016 elections.

“Aquino is hell-bent to pass on to us commuters the whole costs of the MRT and LRT’s maintenance and operations so he could declare the allocated funds from the national budget as savings and use it to fund his bets for 2016. It is also a gift to woo the Ayalas and Pangilinans who are also LP’s biggest campaign contributors” claimed Malunes.

The commuter group also called on the riding public to continue protesting against the MRT and LRT fare hike as it is part of living-by Pope Francis’ teachings on “rejecting all forms of corruption which diverts resources from the poor” and “to break the bonds of injustice and oppression” which causes “scandalous social inequalities”.

“Pope Francis called on us to reject all forms of corruption, injustice and oppression that sinks us deeper into poverty. Let us heed his call and protest against Aquino’s corrupt, unjust and anti-poor MRT and LRT fare hike!” Malunes said. ###

Pope_Francis_Before_3

Unpopular fare hike to fund unpopular Aquino candidate in 2016 – commuters’ group

12 Jan

Leading protests on the second Monday of the implementation of the MRT-LRT fare hike, a commuters’ group called on the public to continue protesting the unpopular move which it claimed will be used to fund the unpopular candidate of Pres. Noynoy Aquino in the 2016 elections.

The Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network said that the Aquino government has set the stage for declaring at least P2.1 billion from the national budget as “savings” along the lines of the Disbursement Acceleration Program and using the said fund as presidential pork.

Larawan mula kay Kathy Yamzon

Larawan mula kay Kathy Yamzon

It said funds from fares for the MRT and LRT can finance the trains’ operations and maintenance and that allocations in the 2015 national budget have already been made for the trains’ rehabilitation and upgrading.

“The riding public and all Filipinos have another reason to oppose the fare hike. It appears that the Aquino government is working to set aside funds for the 2016 elections from this additional burden for train commuters,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson.

He said that the history of privatization transactions in the country shows that corruption goes hand-in-hand with privatization, as big capitalists who benefit from privatization give bribes to politicians at the top levels of the government.

“The Aquino government stands to earn a lot in terms of kickbacks from privatizing the MRT and LRT. It is no accident that bidding for the trains have been marred by allegations of extortion and fraud,” Malunes added.

He was referring to allegations that former MRT 3 General Manager Al Vitangcol III tried to extort $30 million from Czech company Inekon Group in relation to bidding for the train system’s coaches.

“The Aquino government is hell-bent on imposing a fare hike in the MRT and LRT because it has vested interest in the move. We vow to intensify protests and not allow Aquino to raise funds through an unpopular move in order to finance his unpopular candidate in 2016,” Malunes said.###

 Aquino dared to public debate on fare hikes anew

9 Jan

Responding to Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s statements against critics of fare hikes in the MRT and LRT, commuters’ group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network renewed its challenge to the chief executive to a public debate on the issue.

DSC06874The group said Aquino cannot defend his claims that the fare hike is “reasonable,” that critics of the fare hike are only after self-promotion, and that there are no real alternatives to the fare hike.

“Aquino confines himself with vague generalizations on a very important issue and refuses to engage with the 1,001 sound arguments against the MRT-LRT fare hike. If he really understands what he’s saying, he should face us in a public debate,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson.

The group cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s study showing that fare levels before the increase were enough to cover the train systems’ operation and maintenance.

It also cited Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose Emilio Abaya’s admission that the fare hike would go to the government’s big capitalist contractors.

“This fare hike is reasonable only for the government’s big capitalist contractors and within the pro-capitalist and anti-poor logic of the government’s Public-Private Partnership program. The fare hike is patently unreasonable for the riding public,” Malunes added.

RILES Network also belied Aquino’s claims that critics of the fare hike are not offering alternatives, claiming that it has consistently proposed measures to ensure that fares would not go up and service in the train systems would be improved.

“We have not been remiss in advancing proposals for the MRT and LRT. The government should subsidize an efficient, safe and affordable mass transport system including the MRT and LRT. It should junk contracts with big capitalists which are onerous to the Filipino people,” Malunes stated.

RILES Network vows to hold protests in key MRT and LRT stations in the morning of January 12, the second Monday that the fare hikes will be implemented. ###

Commuters clap to stop MRT-LRT fare hike

5 Jan

Commuter group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network led what it called a “Clap 2 Stop” protest today against the newly-implemented increase in MRT and LRT fares, calling on MRT and LRT commuters to voice out their protest by clapping their hands while falling in line at the ticket queues and inside the train stations.

“The riding public has spoken: we will stop Aquino’s treacherous and burdensome fare hike! The Aquino administration has implemented the fare hikes behind commuters’ backs and amidst widespread opposition and protest,” RILES Network spokesperson Sammy Malunes said.

RILES Network claimed that the fare hike is treacherous and illegal as it was approved while commuters were busy with holiday preparations in order to hide the move from public scrutiny and without presenting the actual increase before public consultations.

“We commuters are enraged by the fact that Aquino is committing this great train robbery against the riding public to fill the pockets of private contractors and investors,” Malunes said.

The commuter group insisted that the fare hike would only be used to honor onerous contracts with private contractors and investors and not to improve the MRT and LRT’s services.???????????????????????????????

“We have every reason to believe that the fare hike will go to the pockets of the government’s big capitalist contractors, not to the improvement of services. The MRT and LRT provide public services which should not be turned into private businesses. Their privatization only means there would be more fare hikes in the coming years,” Malunes said.

Aside from mass protests in train stations, RILES Network also joined other anti-fare hike groups in filing a Temporary Restraining Order before the Supreme Court to push for a stop to the increase’s implementation.

“We will exert all efforts to stop Aquino’s anti-commuter and anti-poor fare hike. Though legal efforts help in temporarily blocking the fare hike, we call on our fellow commuters to continue and intensify our protests until the fare hike is totally junked,” Malunes said.

???????????????????????????????The commuter group warned that they would hold bigger and bolder protests until the fare hike is junked.

“We promise Aquino that the riding public will continue to protest and hold bigger actions to junk his great train robbery as we have done in his previous attempts to increase fares,” Malunes said. ###

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