Thursday, December 12, 2013

MRT/LRT rate hike unfair and unjust – labor group

12 December 2013

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) renewed its call for the government to forego its plan to raise the tariff rates in the MRT and LRT systems by additional P10 during a public consultations held today.

PM spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza, said that while workers are very much interested in making their daily train travel safer and more comfortable through improved services, removing the state subsidy to millions of commuters through a fare hike further deepens the inequality and poverty in this country, notwithstanding the failure of the government to bare the real score justifying the increase.

He likewise complained that the public hearing today can never be intelligent and participatory since none of the documents that they were asking from DOTC since August this year were provided before its conduct.

Nevertheless, PM participated in the hearing to make its opposition official while several of its members holding “Palag sa P10 dagdag!” placards held a picket outside the LRT 2 depo in Pasig City where the consultation is being held.

In the consultation, PM had raised the following grounds to back their opposition to the planned P10 fare hike:

1.       The real amount of subsidy to MRT-LRT consumers (P45 for MRT and 25 for LRT) as presented by President Aquino during his State of the Nation Address this year was erroneous as he compared the cost of subsidy to the rates of air-conditioned buses in Edsa. The group’s own estimate puts the figure to just P13 per passenger ride.

2.     It is highly unfair and unequal to remove the annual P6-B subsidy to some 400 million train riders while providing the few VIP’s in government with at least P8-B travel subsidy, including the P1-M per day travel subsidy to the President and P180,000 to the DOTC secretary. PM asserts that subsidy is a necessary social tool amid inequality and poverty in the country.

3.     Ordinary workers will be mostly affected by the fare hike.  Based on the 2007 Mega Manila Public Transport Study, 67.7% MRT and LRT users earn less the P10,000 per month or less than the mandated minimum wage while another 15%, most probably students, are ‘without income’ in their economic profile.

4.   Costs borne out of onerous contracts, corporate fraud, or flawed executive decisions should not be passed on to consumers. The government should rather conduct an honest-to-goodness inquiry into allegations that the private consortium MRTC and other parties have defrauded the government and the people under the onerous BLT contract.  If such is proven, PM demands that the BLT contract rescinded at no further cost to the government.  Any liabilities accrued from such onerous or fraudulent transactions must be shared by the contracting parties and not passed on to commuters.

5.  The fare hike is a prelude to privatization.  PM maintains its position that vital public utilities such as the MRT/LRT system remain in the public sphere.

The group argued that privatization is neither the tuwid na daan, nor the way towards inclusive growth. 

“The country has had enough of devastating privatization experience in vital industries such as power and water.  With the latest hike in Meralco rates of P4.15/kwh, we can now pride ourselves as a third world country with power rates that of the first world,” concluded Fortaleza.

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