Saturday, February 5, 2011

Workers group oppose LRT/MRT hike, call for cheap, green mass transport

Press Release
February 5, 2011

In the public hearing called today by the Department of Transport and Communications, the labor party Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) declared its opposition to the planned fare hike and called for a cheap and green mass transport system. “The government of PNoy must extend and expand the subsidy to the riding public instead of passing the burden to the people of high transport costs,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

PM received an invitation from the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) to attend today’s second of three public consultation hearings. A representative of PM came to the hearing to put forward the labor party’s position.

Magtubo clarified that “The MRT and LRT is a great counterbalance to the profit orientation of the private transport. Yesterday the Land Transportation and Franchising Board suspended another four bus companies for participating in the transport holiday last November. Without a public mass transport, the government and the people can always be held hostage by private transport firms out to guard their selfish interests.”

“The light rail should be maintained as the cheapest, most efficient and greenest mass transport in the country. Every peso spent by the government on subsidizing the LRT and MRT is money well spent. It not only benefits the workers, students and the poor but protects the environment as well,” insisted Magtubo.

The group is arguing that the cost-benefit accounting of the LRT/MRT operation should include “a consideration of its social good that cannot be quantified in money terms.”

“The prices of rice, sugar, oil, gas and fare among others are rising thus squeezing the stagnant wages and incomes of workers and the poor. If the government will not institute price control then it must subsidize the costs of basic goods and services together with increasing wages and providing jobs,” Magtubo said.

PM warned of unrest in the country similar to the uprisings in the Arab countries due to the rising fares and prices of food and oil combined with worsening unemployment and poverty.  Magtubo claimed that “PNoy must act boldly to address the food crisis, escalating inflation and deepening hardship of Filipinos. Nobody was able to predict the explosion in the Arab region and nobody can discount unrest in the Philippines due to similar conditions of widespread desperation among workers, youth and the poor.”
He added that “Aside from short-term solutions such as price control, government subsidies, public employment and regulation of contractualization, government must institute a shift in industrial, agricultural, economic and social policies.”

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