MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers and partylist groups asked the Supreme Court to stop the fare hike for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT), saying the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has no authority to approve and implement the rate increase.
In a petition for certiorari and prohibition filed before the High Court on Tuesday, March 3, the petitioners – which include Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito and other lawmakers – said the DOTC’s Department Order No. 2014-014 was “null and void” because the agency “unilaterally proposed, approved and implemented the fare adjustment.”
The agency issued the department order in December 2014 to announce the rate increase.
Under the new scheme, which came into effect last January, the maximum fare on the train lines now cost between P28-30 from the previous P15-20.
The petitioners argued that the DOTC failed to coordinate with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTRFB) to comply with the publication, notice and hearing requirements for the fare hike.
Citing Executive Order 202, the petitioners noted that the LTFRB has the “adjudicatory power to determine, prescribe and approve and periodically review and adjust, reasonable fares, rates and other related charges, relative to the operation of public land transportation services provided by motorized vehicles.”
But it was the DOTC alone who issued the department order announcing the fare increase and its implementation, the petitioners added.
Aside from Ejercito, those who filed the petition include:
- 2nd District Parañaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting
- Ang Nars Partylist Rep. Leah Paquiz
- Buhay Partylist Congressmen Lito Atienza, Irwin Tieng and Mariano Michael Vellarde
- Former Cavite 3rd District Rep. Crispin “Boying” Remulla
- Allan Tanjusay, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)
- Allan Montaño, Federation of Free Workers (FFW)
- Leody De Guzman, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
- Rene Magtubo, Partido Manggagawa (PM)
- Annie Geron, PS LINK
Named respondents were LTFRB Chairman Winston M. Ginez, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, MRT 3 Office Officer-in-Charge Renato San Jose, and Metro Rail Transit Corporation and Light Rail Manila Consortium (LRMC) administrator Honorito D. Chaneco.
The petitioners also hit the fare hike, saying it was “inappropriate and unreasonable” given the continuing glitches and maintenance problems plaguing the MRT.
In January, progressive groups and private individuals also asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order on the fare hike.
Earlier, the DOTC said it was open to the creation of a regulatory body for fare adjustments.
During a Senate hearing on the MRT last February 2, Senator Francis Escudero questioned if the DOTC has the authority to propose and implement the fare hike.
Abaya then cited Executive Order 125-A or the Reorganization Act of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
Section 5, paragraph P of the order states that the DOTC has the power to “determine, fix and/or prescribe charges and/or rates pertinent to the operation of public air and land transportation utility facilities and services….”
But the transportation chief added that the agency “fully welcomes and encourages Congress” to create a rail regulatory authority.
Senator Grace Poe, who chaired the February hearing, said the Senate public services subcommittee will study the proposal. – Rappler.com