MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) rejected the request of transport groups to hike the minimum fare from P9 to P10.
In a statement on Friday evening, March 18, the LTFRB said that the minimum fare was staying at P9 for now.
The regulatory board said it had “judiciously balanced the rights of the riding public who are mostly dependent on the public transport system vis-à-vis the right of the operators to financial returns.”
Transport groups 1-UTAK, Pasang Masda, ALTODAP, and ACTO had asked for a P5 hike in the minimum fare in Central Luzon, Metro Manila, and Calabarzon. Part of this petition sought a temporary P1 hike while the LTFRB decided on the full hike. This temporary hike was what the LTFRB junked.
The LTFRB statement cited the position of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which warned against the inflationary impact of a fare hike.
“NEDA stated that any petition for fare adjustment, permanent or provisional, is a matter of paramount public importance as it will create an accelerated increase on the prices of basic commodities and services,” the LTFRB said.
Instead of a fare hike, the regulatory board said that the government has already started providing the P6,500 fuel subsidy to public utility vehicles. As of Friday, it said that over 100,000 drivers have already benefitted from the program.
It also said that the LTFRB would “commence” service contracting by the week of March 21 once the budget department gives them the funds. The LTFRB has a budget of P7 billion for service contracting where it hires public utility vehicles, giving the drivers set wages if the agency pays on time.
“Both programs are expected to counter the additional cost of PUV operations and avoid the inequitable transfer of such additional cost to the riding public and thereby safeguard the operating capacity of the transportation industry for an extended period of time to insulate any speculative, negative impact on our economy which will adversely [affect] all Filipinos,” it said.
On Tuesday, March 15, oil firms implemented another round of massive price hikes in pump prices – the highest so far – with diesel prices jumping by P13.15 per liter and gasoline by P7.10.
The LTFRB resolution also came out after industry sources estimated that the price rollback in fuel on March 22 would almost cancel out the hike on Tuesday.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that lower demand from China and talks between Russia and Ukraine had an effect on lower barrel prices. Based on estimates as of Tuesday, the rollback could go over P12 for diesel and P5 for gasoline.
Another transport group, LTOP, meanwhile, asked the LTFRB to hike the minimum fare to P15. The temporary increase it asked for is at P3, with a P1 provisional hike per succeeding kilometer. The board will hear its petition on March 22.
Oil prices have skyrocketed since 2021, with experts saying that the inflationary effects of high fuel prices could reverse the gains the Philippines had during the pandemic. Economic managers seemed to resist the idea of a fare hike, preferring subsidies instead. – Rappler.com