A lawmaker pressed today the immediate withdrawal of the recent fare increase granted by the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to bus and jeepney operators and drivers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Aangat Tayo Party-list Rep. Neil Abayon made the call saying “fuel prices have had several big rollbacks” but the LTFRB, the regulatory agency in charge of setting fares, had been “silent all the while.”
It may be recalled that Secretary Arthur Tugade had asked the LTFRB to adopt a formula on which increases or reductions in fares are automatically adjusted based on fuel prices and other factors.
At present, the LTFRB increases fares based on petitions by operators and drivers of public utility vehicles. The regulatory body reduces fares in reaction to public clamor.
In pushing a formula similar to that used in the aviation industry, Tugade wanted the LTFRB to be proactive in adjusting fares without necessarily reacting to petitions from transport sectors and the commuting public.
Abayon, a member of the House Transportation Committee, said the prices of fuel had gone down for seven consecutive weeks now due to the downtrend in the prices of crude in the world market.
He asked the LTFRB to bring back fares to their previous levels and then to reimburse drivers who already paid for the new fare matrix.
The congressman said the LTFRB can motu propio or on its own consider revoking its last fare hike order because the conditions on which it was based are no longer prevailing.
“In other words they do not really need a rollback petition because they just need to reverse their last decision,” the solon said.
“How can the LTFRB stay quiet while commuters pay for fuel that is no longer as expensive as it was before?”
On Monday, the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP) insisted that the rollbacks in the prices of petroleum products do not yet warrant fare reduction.
FEJODAP head Zeny Maranan said on radio they are not taking back their promise to implement a fare rollback once fuel prices reach the P38-P39 per liter level.
She stressed, however, that the fuel prices in Metro Manila have yet to reach that level.
“We are keen on keeping our promise of a fare rollback once we see that fuel prices will at least decrease to P38 to P39,” said Maranan.”
“But we need to see those fuel prices go down to that amount here in Metro Manila, in Quezon City, Mandaluyong and Makati,” she added.
The transport group head said that until now, fuel prices still range at P46.
Maranan also said many jeepney drivers in Metro Manila have yet to secure the new fare matrix that will allow them to implement the recent minimum fare hike from P9 to P10.