MANILA, Philippines – Protesters called for a jeepney fare hike amid rising oil prices Thursday, March 15, in a "transport caravan" that caused the cancellation of classes and left passengers stranded.
The group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston), which was at the forefront of the caravan, wants a P1 nationwide fare increase for jeepneys, to add to the current minimum of P8 per ride.
“Ina-avoid sana namin ‘yon, kaya lang dahil panay tinatanggihan ni Pangulong Aquino ang pag-aalis ng 12% (value-added tax) sa langis at Oil Deregulation Law, eh isasama na sa kahilingan namin ‘yon,” said Piston secretary-general George San Mateo in an interview with reporters.
(We are avoiding that, but because President Aquino keeps on rejecting our request to scrap the 12% value-added tax on oil as well as the Oil Deregulation Law, we are including the fare increase in our request.)
During protests along the Quezon City Circle earlier during the day, protesters carried placards that call for a “fair fare,” among other things.
The protest prompted at least 4 cities to cancel classes. To service stranded passengers, the military allotted at least 38 military vehicles for its “Oplan Libreng Sakay."
Youth group Anakbayan said the government overreacted, noting that transport groups “have repeatedly said that today’s protests will not include a transport strike.”
“The Aquino government should stop its terrorism and showbiz acting. It should instead respond by immediately stopping oil price hikes, lifting the VAT on oil, and scrapping the oil deregulation law,” said Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.
The transport caravan is ongoing as of posting time. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.