June 21, 2024

The Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP) has cried foul over the non-inclusion of the Cordillera and other regions in the P1 fare increase for jeepneys granted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board last week.

The LTFRB, in an order last week, approved a P1 provisional fare hike for jeepneys operating in the National Capital Region, Regions 3, and 4, bringing the minimum fare to P10 in these areas, as oil companies implemented another round of increases in the prices of petroleum products.

League president for Cordillera and Region 1 Patricio Evangelista said their group will file a petition on June 13 to insist the Cordillera and other regions be also granted the P1 jeepney fare increase since all members of transport sector nationwide are on a similar situation of shouldering the continuous big-time increases in fuel prices.

He reminded transport operators and drivers in the region are more burdened compared to their counterparts in the lowlands given the higher cost of vehicle spare parts, unique terrains they traverse in the region, and disparity of fuel prices where Baguio City has higher fuel rates.

He said the LTOP is among the groups that filed for jeepney fare increase and which has been petitioning for additional fare in the previous years.

While acknowledging the efforts of the LTFRB-Cordillera which he said has been transmitting all their petitions, Evangelista chided the LTFRB central office for being deaf to their appeals for fare hike increases in other regions in the country.

Ang tagal nang hindi isinasali ang CAR, parang wala ito sa mapa ng LTFRB. We are sorry to say but bingi sila sa ating mga petisyon,” Evangelista said.

The minimum jeep fare in the Cordillera remains at P9, which was last adjusted when a P.50 hike was earlier approved. The group since then has been appealing for higher adjustments due to the increasing fuel prices which started before the pandemic and even before the Ukraine-Russia conflict aggravated fuel prices in the world market.

Last week, City Mayor Benjamin Magalong also requested for reasonable fare adjustments for taxi and jeepney fares.

In a letter dated June 6, Magalong requested LTFRB Chairperson Martin Delgra III for the LTFRB to consider an increase to the taxi flagdown rate currently applied in Baguio from P35 to P40 and a reasonable, commensurate increase to the minimum fare of public utility jeepneys in the city.

He said public transport operators across the country are reeling from the continuous price hikes of fuel products and the same is felt in Baguio City due to the large difference in local fuel prices compared to those in the neighboring localities in the lowlands.

Magalong said the base price of diesel products in La Union is at P75 per liter and unleaded gasoline is sold at P85.25 to P83/L, while in Baguio current prices are at P77 to P82.36/L for diesel and P85 to P87/L for unleaded gasoline.

“Our terrain consists of ascending and descending roads, and the disparity of higher fuel prices has resulted in particular difficulty for operators to recoup their operational costs and earn a decent living,” Magalong wrote the LTFRB.

Evangelista also confirmed many taxi drivers are now looking for alternative sources of livelihood due to the high cost of operations.

Some taxi drivers in the city said even if they work double time, it is now difficult to meet the daily quota or “boundary” which they have to remit to their operators because of the continuous oil price hike and they barely have enough profit to take home.

Evangelista said the government-subsidized Libreng Sakay program also does not help the regular drivers since commuters would choose to ride free, and the fuel subsidy is temporary relief and until now not all of the drivers have received the assistance. – Hanna C. Lacsamana