By Aurea Calica, Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | December 28, 2014

MANILA, Philippines - Only a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court can stop the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) from implementing the fare increase in the LRT/MRT commuter train system, Malacañang said yesterday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it would be the court that would “essentially” decide on the prospective challenges against the fare increases.

Valte said they are expecting several groups to question the new fare structure and seek to stop its implementation.

“We will be asked to respond and we will, if and when the time comes that the Supreme Court asks the government to do so. We are ready to answer...So let us just wait for whatever decision the Supreme Court will make – whether or not it will issue a TRO,” Valte said.

The DOTC said the fare hike will push through on Jan. 4 next year, even if commuters complain of long queues and poor service for the MRT and LRT Lines 1 and 2.

Valte said it would be up to the DOTC to continuously justify the move before the riding public, especially amid complaints on the poor services of the LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3.

The DOTC had identified the problem areas in the commuter train system and would work to fix them.She stressed the DOTC was aware of the need to improve the services because the main concern was the safety of passengers and procurement of additional train coaches.

Valte said the government had to subsidize train operations but the increase in fares would allow the allocation of the funds used for subsidy for other programs and projects outside of Metro Manila.