Published: August 24, 2012
Saying it was the public’s protest which impeded the implementation of fare hikes in the MRT and LRT last year, a broad network of students, workers and ordinary commuters warned DOTC Sec. Mar Roxas of public outrage should the implementation of the fare hike push through next year.
The Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network said the government’s plan to increase MRT and LRT fares to as much as P30 will be a burden to the trains’ passengers, composed largely of workers, students and the unemployed.
“The public was able to halt the implementation of the fare hikes last year with our protests. Sec. Roxas’s announcement means that we have to continue and even intensify our protests against this huge burden,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson.
“The situation of the majority of our people has not improved in recent years and it has even worsened for many. The MRT-LRT fare hikes are unacceptable then and they remain unacceptable now,” he added.
RILES Network reiterated its criticism of Sec. Roxas’s argument that government subsidy for the MRT and LRT is unfair to people in the provinces.
“This argument is anti-poor. Pushed to its logical conclusion, it means that only the poor’s taxes in a certain locality can be used to build and sustain public hospitals in that place,” Malunes said.
“Where will that argument bring us? To a situation where people who are seen as unable to give to the government will be denied subsidy and social services,” he added.
“Affordable mass transportation is a form of social service which the government should provide the people,” he said.
The Network said that 15 per cent of the subsidy for the MRT and LRT goes to the guaranteed Return on Investment for private investors and lending institutions.
“What the government should do is renegotiate its contracts with private investors and lending institutions, to make the terms of payment less onerous for the public,” Malunes said.
“At the same time, the government should allot a bigger section of the national budget to social services and lessen payment for foreign debt and funds for the military, which are pocketed by top military officials,” he added.