January 29, 2023

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board have called out the punong barangays and presidents of jeeney associations of camps 7 and 8, Puliwes, Crystal Cave, San Vicente, Bakakeng, and Loakan, who adjusted the basic fare in jeepneys without its authority.
The minimum fare for the first four kilometers in the Cordillera is P9. But those riding jeepneys bound to camps 7 and 8, Puliwes, Crystal Cave, and San Vicente have to pay a minimum regular fare of P15 and P12 for senior citizens, while those bound for Loakan pay P25. The notices posted in jeepneys traversing said lines stated the adjusted fare rates will be in effect until the 50 percent passenger cap is lifted.
LTFRB OIC Regional Director Lalaine Sobremonte said the LTFRB is the sole government agency tasked to determine, prescribe and approve and periodically review and adjust fares and other related charges relative to the operation of public land transportation services provided by motorized vehicles.
In the summary hearing called by the LTFRB last Aug. 27, Hearing Officer Laird Urbanozo said the memorandum of agreement between the barangay officials and jeepney association officers are not binding.
“Passengers may donate, but they cannot be obliged to pay an amount higher than the prescribed fare,” Urbanozo told the barangay officials and jeepney association officials.
He warned that if they continue collecting above the prescribed fare, LTFRB will withdraw the special permits issued to the jeepney associations.
Urbanozo said the LTFRB understands the situation of jeepney drivers but he stressed that like them, commuters are also hard-up financially.
He said this is why tip boxes have been installed inside jeepneys as a way of asking from passengers to add to the usual fare.
Puliwes PB John Aban and San Vicente PB Luis Dangalan explained during the hearing that it is not their intention to decide in behalf of the LTFRB. They said signing of the MOA is their way of helping commuters who have to endure lining up because of the lack of jeepneys that would ferry them, and the drivers who have only been earning a pittance since the government limited the days of their operation and decrease the vehicle’s carrying capacity.
Both said that before they signed the MOA, their constituents have been consulted and they agreed to the fare increase.
Crystal Cave Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association president Michael Noza said that unlike other jeepney associations that have been collecting more than the prescribed fare without authority from any government official, they were transparent in their actions by coordinating with the barangay officials and have published a notice of hearing in the official Facebook page of Barangay Bakakeng Central, the barangay which has jurisdiction over Crystal Cave.
Noza said before the lockdown, his takehome pay was P600 to P700 daily. With the restrictions, he said his average takehome pay is only P110 daily.
He said drivers have contemplated on filing a petition for fare adjustment but knowing the time it will take for the LTFRB to decide, he said the immediate remedy they thought of was to sign a MOA with the punong barangays.
LTFRB OIC Regional Director Lalaine Sobremonte said the clamor for fare increase has long reached the attention of Department of Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade but because majority is affected by the closure of businesses, officials of the DOTR decided not to grant any fare adjustment in the meantime.
She said the compromise was for passengers do donate whatever amount on top of the minimum fare, but this should not be mandatory.
“May mga nawalan ng trabaho pagbabayarin mo pa nang mas mataas na pamasahe. Kaya nga mga tip boxes muna ang sinuggest namin na ilagay sa mga jeep para magdagdag kung sino ang may gusto,” Sobremonte told the Courier.
The last fare increase in the Cordillera took effect last February.
Along with the grant of the increase was LTFRB’s directive that in the filing of petitions for fare adjustment in the future, regional offices of the LTFRB will compute rates using the formula set by the LTFRB en banc in Memorandum Circular 2019-035.
The circular has institutionalized the mechanisms, processes, and procedures in determining the changes in the fares, rates, and other related charges in public land transportation.
Sobremonte said there will no longer be public hearings in petitions for fare increase.
Instead, the board en banc will deliberate if it needs to adjust fares based on the recommendation of its regional offices.
Prior to the issuance of MC 2019-035 in July 2019, fare rates were suggested by transport associations that file their petitions for increase.
In MC 2019-035, factors to be considered when deciding fare adjustments are official report on fuel prices by the Department of Energy and the total operating and maintenance cost based on surveys, studies, and investigations conducted by the LTFRB among operators, drivers, and industries in the public land transportation service. – Rimaliza A. Opiña