By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Ways and Means passed on Monday the substitute bill, seeking to institutionalize a mandatory 20-percent student fare discount in public transportation even during weekends and holidays.
Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing disclosed that her panel approved the substitute bill on the proposed Student Fare Discount Act.
“Yes, we already approved the bill institutionalizing the grant student fare discount privileges on public transportation, ” she said in an interview.
She said her panel agreed with the proposed mandatory 20-percent student fare discount.
“This is a laudable measure, this will help both the students and the operators alike,” Suansing said.
The substitute bill, a consolidation of nine measures, was unanimously approved by the House Committee on Transportation in December last year.
Under the proposed Student Fare Discount Act, the fare discount may be availed of during the entire period while the student is enrolled, including weekends and holidays.
In a case where a promotional fare, as approved by the concerned regulatory agency, is granted by a public transportation utility operator, the student shall have the option to choose between the promotional fare and the regular fare less the discount as provided under the proposed Act.
The bill provides that a student shall be entitled to a 20-percent discount on the regular domestic fares of all kinds of public transportation utilities upon the presentation of a duly issued and validated school identification (ID) card or current validated enrolment for, supported by any document to properly establish identity.
Students enrolled in postgraduate degree courses and informal short-term courses are not covered by the proposed Act.
A student who is refused the fare discount privilege may file a complaint with:
the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for land public transportation utilities, except tricycles;
the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for sea/water public transportation
the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) for air public transportation facilities;
the Legal Service of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for rail public transportation facilities, including the Manila Light Rail Transit System, the Manila Metro Rail Transit System, and the Philippine National Railway System,
the Office of the Local Chief Executive of the local government unit concerned for tricycles
The following penalties that shall be imposed for refusal or failure to grant the student fare discount privilege:
For land public transportation utilities including tricycles, the driver shall suffer the penalty of suspension of driver’s license for one month for the first offense; two months for the second offense, three months for the third offense; and three months plus a fine of P1,000 for each subsequent offense.
Under the bill, the owner or operator of the land transportation utility shall be solidarity liable with the driver or conductor for a fine of P1,000 for every offense or violation.
In land public transportation utilities requiring prior booking, the owner or operator shall be solidarity liable with its employee responsible for the refusal or failure for a fine of: P1,000 for the first offense; P5,000 for the second offense; P10,000 for the second offense; and additional increments of P5,000 on top of the penalty for the third offense for each subsequent offense.
For sea/water and air public transportation utilities, the violators shall face a fine of P5,000 for the first offense, P10,000 for the second offense, P20,000 for the third offense, and additional increments of P10,000 on top of the fine for the third offense for each subsequent offense.
For rail public transportation utilities, the violators shall be slapped with a fine of PP1,000 for the first offense, P5,000 for the second offense, P10,000 for the third offense and additional increments of P55,000 on top of the penalty for the third offense for each subsequent offense.
Under the bill, any person who avails or attempts to avail of the privileges through the use of falsified identification documents, fraud or any form of misrepresentation may be subject to civil and penal liabilities.
The measure tasks the LTFRB, MARINA, CAB, and DOTr to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.