Gwen Garcia fumes at Civil Aeronautics Board over varying airfares
MANILA, Philippines – Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia berated the chief of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) legal division for not imposing standard ticket prices for airlines.
The Cebu 3rd District representative spent about half an hour grilling CAB legal division chief Wyrlou Samodio as the House transportation committee met with transportation officials to discuss the effect of fuel excise taxes on passengers.
“I have a problem with airlines asking for fuel surcharge…[There is] the erratic imposition of plane fares by major airlines, which change from hour to hour and week to week – in fact minute to minute – and have no rhyme or reason as regards the length or number of air miles it covers… And we could not hear from the airlines a logical explanation for this,” said Garcia.
But instead of questioning the airline companies’ officials present during the meeting, Garcia turned her attention to CAB instead.
“I find it rather onerous to further impose upon the riding public a fuel surcharge, when in truth and in fact, wala namang CAB eh. Nasaan ang CAB on the fares? Meron ba tayong specific fares that are set by the CAB?” asked Garcia.
(I find it rather onerous to further impose upon the riding public a fuel surcharge, when in truth and in fact, the CAB is not moving. Where is the CAB when it comes to fares? Do we even have specific fares set that are by the CAB?)
Samodio said CAB was still looking into the airlines’ proposals to return the fuel surcharge. He said CAB was also reviewing other options to further regulate airfares, including possibly imposing a cap.
Samodio also tried to explain why the CAB cannot simply standardize airfare for all airlines. He said airline companies use different types of airplanes, which entail varying operation costs.
“We cannot make a uniform fare, say for Manila to Legazpi, kung halimbawa po ang gamit ng isang airline ay [Airbus] A320 at ang gamit ng isang airline ay isang ATR Aircraft. Magkaiba po ng gastusin ‘yan… Pero pinagaaralan po ’yan,” he said.
(We cannot make a uniform fare, say for Manila to Legazpi, if for example one airline uses an Airbus A320 while another airline uses an ATR Aircraft. They have different costs… But we are exploring this.)
Mad at ‘Mr Cab’
Samodio added the airlines’ cost of business operation is a “trade secret.” But this irked Garcia.
The lawmaker asked Samodio, whom she called as “Mr Cab” if he meant to say airlines are keeping secrets from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Samodio said no, explaining the government is able to examine the accounts should it wish to.
“Have you ever heard, Mr CAB, of the saying the authority of the government emanates from the people? And now you are telling us, the representatives of the people, that there are no secrets as far as government is concerned, but as far as the riding public is concerned, that is a trade secret?” said a visibly irked Garcia.
Samodio, however, said certain information about how airlines operate cannot simply be disclosed to the public because this trade information may be used by another rival airline. Garcia did not accept this.
“Let us not try to dodge issues here by your platitudes. First of all, your platitudes have their own premise. You cannot explain yourself away with your statement about having trade secrets, which are not trade secrets after all because the airlines, they tell this to government,” said Garcia.
“More importantly, you are saying, we are representatives of people and at the same time part of the government, but do not deserve that explanation?” she added.
Samodio then replied the CAB will just submit a position paper on the matter. – Rappler.com
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