By NORWIN GONZALES
BAGUIO CITY —The days when you pay P8.50 for a short trip might soon be over.
As taxi rates across the city shot up, a group of jeepney drivers and operators along with several individuals petitioned the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to raise the current rate of P8.50 for the first four kilometers to P14.00 for the first four kilometers. The current P1.40 per succeeding kilometer was earlier proposed to be raised to P2.00 but the petitioners left it to the board to decide on the matter.
The Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers in BLISTT, Inc or AJODABI, represented by Cristio Lagyop, filed the petition on April 27, 2018 and thereafter issued a notice of hearing informing the public.
The hearing was held on May 15, 2018 at the LTFRB Office in Pacdal, Baguio City with the petitioners present and with representative from the six oppositors who registered their dissent to the petition.
The petitioners say that it is only timely for a fare increase, since the last increase was in the year 2011. They also argue that the Special Fare Rates for the Cordillera, including Baguio City be institutionalized. This means that fare in Cordillera and Baguio will automatically be higher than their counterparts in let us say, Metro Manila.
They cited a few reasons on why the fare hike should be approved. Firstly, they claimed that the purchasing power of the peso is weakening.
Secondly, prices of fuel have shot up in the past few months. They also said that the price in the Cordillera of petroleum products is 15% higher incrementally than in Metro Manila.
They followed through with the rise of prices in spare parts which are periodically needed in running the transport sector.
They also gave as reason the costs of modernization under the government’s PUV modernization program.
Finally, they cited the higher cost of living in Baguio City, which makes it difficult for drivers and operators to live off the measly profit.
Then, it was time for the oppositors to rebut. They clarified, however, that they are not against the fare increase itself, just at the proposed amount which they found not suitable to the economic conditions of an ordinary commuter.
They argued that the fare hike must be anchored on the “net income” of the common people. They say that minimum wage in Cordillera is P270-300 while in Metro Manila, it is P512.
“Why would you charge a higher jeepney fare when our minimum wage is far lower?” asked Joseph Edison Claridades, one of the oppositors.
Freddie Guisdan, also of the opposition, said that fare for himself and his son will cost him P62.00 for two trips back and forth in the proposed fare setup.
Meanwhile, Carlito Wayas, president of the progressive transport group PISTON-Metro Baguio said that the issue of fare increase should not spark conflict between commuters and drivers/operators.
He said that his group is not against, in fact, it supports the call for a fare increase because it is their right to ask for it given the situation of rising prices of fuel and spare parts.
However, he said that it should not be the first option when it comes to these situations.
“If we are to raise the fare right now, the wages of ordinary workers will not be enough to shoulder the added costs. We need to increase the capacity of commuters before we ask for a fare hike.” he said.
He also called on all transport groups to unite in one banner to call on the government and petroleum companies to negotiate a deal increasing the diesel discount from P1.50/L to P4-5/L.
“With these discounts, the companies will not lose much profit because this is nothing compared to the net profit they get everyday.”# nordis.net