By Alexandria Denise San Juan
A commuters group filed anew a petition before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to revert the minimum fares of passenger jeepneys and buses amid the series of fuel price rollbacks.
In a letter to the LTFRB dated November 12, Rodolfo Javellana Jr., and Arlis Acao of United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) urged the Board to reopen discussions on PUV fare adjustments.
The group also asked the LTFRB to bring back the minimum fares of jeepneys to P8, as well as the P10 and P12 minimum fares for ordinary and air-conditioned commuter buses, respectively, in light of lower pump prices.
UFCC argued that oil companies have already lowered petroleum prices for the fifth straight week even as the Board pushed through with the granting of fare increases for PUJs and PUBs.
Last October, the LTFRB approved the P10-minimum fare for PUJs plying in Metro Manila, and Regions 3 and 4, in connection with a September 2017 petition of transport groups due to the anticipated increase on prices of fuel due to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
The Board also granted a provisional fare increase of P1 for commuter buses in Metro Manila, and an additional P0.15 per kilometer charge for provincial buses.
The fare increase on PUJs and PUBs came on the heels of rising pump prices and runaway inflation rates which took a heavy toll on the petitioners.
Prior to the implementation of the hike last November 2, UFCC also filed a motion for reconsideration to the LTFRB to stop the imposition of the newly-approved fares.
However, the Board junked the group’s appeal as it “failed to present new issues for the Board to reconsider its earlier findings.”
Among the at least seven arguments laid out by the UFCC in its recent petition, the group also cited predictions of experts that oil prices will further drop in the world market until next year.
The UFCC also noted the government’s decision to suspend the implementation of the second tranche of fuel excise taxes, as well as its support given to the transportation sector through the “Pantawid Pasada Fuel Program.”
“Mismo ang kalihim ng DOTr (Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade) noong Oktubre 31, 2018 ay nagpahayag na nararapat na hindi ituloy ang pagtaas ng pasahe,” the group pointed out.
On October 31, the DOTr said it will recommend for the LTFRB to review the fare increase and will instruct the agency to come up with a parametric formula wherein fare adjustments will become automatic and will not rely on petitions.
Meanwhile, the LTFRB said that the petition for a roll back in fare rates of buses and jeepneys will be set for a hearing.
“The merits of the case will be addressed especially the basis for the petition and consultations,” the LTFRB said in a statement.