Rappler.com | November 23, 2017

The party-list organization Bayan Muna asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, November 23, to resolve its almost-3-year-old petition to nullify the fare increase for Metro Manila's train systems and to have commuters refunded.

The recent accidents involving the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2 are proof that the fare increases ordered by the Aquino administration did not improve the condition of the trains.

"Despite the much-questioned and much-protested fare hike, [the trains systems] continue to give [their] passengers poor and unsatisfactory service," said the petitioner.

"It continues to experience technical problems that endanger the safety of the riding public. News about its malfunctions has now become so common and complaints from the public have been increasing," the motion read.

In January 2015, Bayan Muna filed the petition with the SC, saying Department Order Number 2014-04 of the Department of Transportation and Communication (now Department of Transportation) was against the Constitution.

The department order allows an additional P11 to the base fare of both the MRT and the LRT, with an additional P1 for every kilometer.

Four other petitions seeking the same relief were filed after.

The petitioners also said then Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya had no quasi-judicial power to determine fare rates for the trains – it was the Land Transportation and Franchising Board that had that power.

"In almost three years of this fare hike, we saw that nothing significant happened to the supposed service improvement in the MRT3/LRT Lines," the motion read.

Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in 2015 that increasing the fare was the "right thing to do" – because it meant lessening government subsidy for the train fares in Metro Manila, so more funds will go to projects in the Visayas and Mindanao.

"From P12 billion, we are lessening that subsidy to P10 billion. So of those P2 billion that we can save, we are going to allocate the resources outside of [Manila] in other areas like Visayas and Mindanao. I know that it’s difficult for those who are riding the public to see that," Lacierda said then.