By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez | InterAksyon.com | January 5, 2016
MANILA, Philippines -- A year after the Light Rail Transit and Metro Rail Transit hiked their fares, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan wants the Department of Transportation and Communication to disclose where the billions of pesos from the increase have gone.
With an estimated 1.3 million commuters using Metro Manila’s mass transit systems, the DOTC earlier estimated that it would collect P2.1 billion from the fare hike, which ranged from 50 to 80 percent.
“After a year, we ask: Where did the fare hike go?” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. asked Tuesday.
“How much did government really collect from the fare increase? How much went to private investors? The public deserves answers from the DOTC,” he said as he pointed out that despite the hike, there have been no visible improvements in the facilities and services of both the MRT and LRT.
“There are still not enough trains. There were frequent disruptions in services. It has become clear that the fare increase had nothing to do with the improvement in the services of the train lines,” Reyes said.
In January last year, Bayan filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to slap a temporary restraining order on the fare hike, which it called illegal, and said Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya had no authority to impose it.
“The entire process for raising fares was also questionable since no real public hearings actually took place,” Bayan said. “Unlike in other government agencies that hold formal hearings when there are rate adjustments, the DOTC and LRT Administration hosted fora where they gave PowerPoint presentations.”
“We call on the Supreme Court to act on our petition and stop the fare increase and provide other reliefs for the commuters and taxpayers. The decision is long overdue,” the group added.
In a separate statement, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares called on the public to watch the deals entered into by the government, saying “midnight deals” tend to become prevalent when an administration winds up its term.
He cited the contract for the LRT Line 6, which will run from Bacoor to Dasmarinas City. The DOTC has called for a pre-qualification of bidders for the deal.
“We should also take note that the DOTC has been involved in numerous anomalous deals in the past years and they have placed taxpayers always at the losing end,” Colmenares, who is running for senator in May, said.