CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Fueled by the rising cost of commodities and their shrinking take-home pay, drivers and operators in the region have asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for an increase in fare of public utility jeepney (PUJ) by as much as P5.
Epifanio Tamiok Jr., Transporter Federation Empowerment Council, Inc. (Trafeco) chairman, said the last minimum fare increase was approved more than 10 years ago on Feb. 15, 2008, but in between those years the price of fuel has consistently been going up.
Tamiok said they are appealing to the riding public to understand their desire to increase the minimum fare of PUJs in Northern Mindanao.
“For so long a time we have been bearing the brunt of lower fare, but this time we have a compelling reason to ask for an increase,” he said in the vernacular.
Joel Gabatan, National Confederation of Transport Union (NCTU) regional chairman, said they are aware that the proposed additional P5 is “suntok sa buwan” (a long shot), but they are open to negotiations with the LTFRB.
“We know that it will be hard for the LTFRB to approve it (P5). If that cannot be granted, what we want is for our minimum fare to be the same as Manila, which is P9,” Gabatan said.
He said they have not pushed hard for a PUJ fare increase since they have also considered the commuters, most especially the employees in the region, but now that workers had recently filed for an additional wage, it is also high time for the transport sector to do the same.
Raul Permites, Coalition of Lanao del Norte Utility Transport for Change (Clutch) chairman, said they don’t want a fare adjustment that is too high as this will also affect their own family members, particularly students, who ride PUJs everyday.
“We don’t want it (fare hike) to boomerang to us. That’s why we only want a reasonable increase,” he said.
“We hope our petition will be approved. We are also waiting for the ‘Pantawid Pasada,’ at least it will help us cope,” he added, referring to the cash subsidy the government will be providing to PUJ drivers in light of the country’s economic situation.
In their petitions, NCTU, Clutch and Trafeco have noted that in the 10 years that there was no increase in PUJ fare, prices of fuel and spare parts have continued to go up. This has also diminished their daily income.
Aminoden Guro, LTFRB-10 regional director, said he will send the petitions of the transport groups to the LTFRB central office.
“It is up to the members of the LTFRB board en banc to review the position papers submitted so they can have a basis for approving the petition for a fare increase in the region,” Guro said.
He said the board en banc can either call for a formal public hearing or forgo it before making the decision.
Guro said the LTFRB national office will consult with experts from the National Economic and Development Authority and the energy department before deliberating on the petition.
For his part, Guro said the proposed P5 increase is “too much,” adding he himself will not recommend a P12.50 minimum fare, although he agreed to the suggestion to implement the Manila rate.
He has also clarified that since the fare increase is not yet in effect in Northern Mindanao, drivers and operators who are caught jacking up their fare will be penalized. (davaotoday.com)