By: F. Allan L. Angelo and Dolly Yasa
THE Western Visayas Transport Coalition (WVTC) will ask the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to increase public transportation fares by P3.50 because of successive oil price hikes.
Raymundo “Boyet” Parcon of the Iloilo City Loop Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations, which is a convenor of WVTC, said successive oil price hikes prompted their group to seek the fare increase.
Another factor that triggered the WVTC petition is the plea filed by another transport group at the National Capital Region seeking to increase the minimum fare from P8 to P10.
If the P3.50 hike is granted, minimum fare in public transport vehicles will also be pegged at P10.
Parcon said their first two petitions for a 50-centavo hike in 2016 and another P1 increase in May 2017 remain pending with LTFRB.
He said they have more reason to seek the increase because the price of diesel per liter, which is the primary fuel of public utility vehicles, in Visayas is more expensive compared to Luzon.
“In Luzon, the price per liter of diesel is from P29 to P31. In Iloilo, it’s more expensive by P2,” Parcon added.
Citing movements in oil prices, Parcon said pump prices have increased 20 times against 19 downticks “but the decrease is only by a matter of several centavos compared to the hikes at an average of P1 per liter.”
Increasing prices of commodities and spare parts also affected the take-home income of drivers.
“For a family of seven, the driver needs to bring home at least P500 daily to survive. But if their income plunges to P350, that’s enough for food only,” he added.
While the increase they seek is staggering, Parcon said they will settle for a lower amount.
“The petition sounds high but if they approve P1 or P2, we’re fine with that,” Parcon said.
The transport leader asked understanding from the commuters for their move because of their dire situation.
“But if pump prices of fuel substantially go down, we will be the first to seek a decrease in fares just like what we did before when we sought to bring down the minimum fare from P7.50 to P6.50. We are also sensitive to public sentiments,” he added.
NO PETITION IN NEGROS
In Negros Occidental, the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC) said they will not file a fare hike petition amid the spiraling prices of oil.
UNDOC Secretary-general Diego Malacad said they trust the initiative of transport group PISTON, which asked the LTFRB to increase fares to P10.
Malacad said that if they file a separate petition with LTFRB-6, it will still be forwarded to Metro Manila for approval.
He stressed that they prefer a decrease in oil prices instead of increasing fares which has direct effect on commuters and consumers.