MANILA, Philippines – Following reports of taxi drivers overcharging passengers at the Philippines' premier airport, lawmakers are calling on airport authorities to take action and protect the country's image.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) should increase the number of accredited metered taxis servicing the passengers of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Because metered taxis are cheaper compared to fixed-rate airport taxis, lines for the metered cabs are often long. This forces some desperate commuters to settle for fixed-rate cabs and rental cars which charge exorbitant fares.
“It is said that airports can be used, especially by foreigners, to gauge how effective any government’s services are. So I hope that our airport officials care enough and realize how serious it is when our overseas Filipino workers, travelers and tourists arrive at our airports only to be greeted by thieves and swindlers in taxis,” Drilon said in a statement on Thursday, January 14.
According to data from MIAA, there are 1,677 airport-accredited taxis and vehicles for rent. This, Drilon said, is not enough to accommodate the thousands of passengers arriving from NAIA's 4 terminals.
In April 2015, MIAA allowed unaccredited white metered taxis to pick up passengers at the arrival areas of NAIA Terminals 2 and 3 during peak hours to meet high demand.
Previously, regular taxis were only allowed to pick up new riders if they also brought departing passengers to the airport.
Drilon's statement comes after a Top Gear post circulated on social media, where a group of passengers was offered a fixed-rate fare of P1,800 by an airport taxi. The group refused, and later took a metered taxi which only charged them P320.
Senator Sonny Angara, vice chairman of the Senate tourism committee, has filed Senate Resolution 1702 to investigate the issue of overcharging.
"Our transportation and airport authorities should look into this matter seriously and resolve this right away or else, Philippine tourism will suffer," Angara said.
Fake dollar rate cards
Another issue confronting NAIA passengers is the fake dollar rate cards used by some abusive taxi drivers to overcharge foreigners.
MIAA said it has not approved any dollar rate cards, and all fares should be charged in Philippine peso.
In a bid to address the problem, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will be conducting random inspections in cooperation with airport security.
Drivers found overcharging passengers and presenting fake rates – considered as grave offenses under MIAA's circular on traffic management – will be fined P2,000 to P5,000, and their access passes confiscated.
Lawmakers said airport authorities should take immediate action to stop illegal activities at NAIA, especially as this comes on the heels of the tanim-bala or bullet-planting scam controversy. – Rappler.com