Group slams dismissal of TRO on toll hike

The Taxpayers’ Unity vs Toll Hike in SLEX (TUTOL-SLEX) – an alliance of commuters, drivers, peoples’ organizations, businessmen, local government officials, neighborhood associations and all taxpayers, condemned the recent decision by the Supreme Court to junk the petition for a temporary restraining order filed by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda describing it as a despicable display of the high court favoring foreign business interests over public welfare.  An earlier TRO petition filed by Atty. Ernesto Francisco Jr. was also dismissed by the Supreme Court prompting the public of the imminent threat of increased toll rates.

TUTOL-SLEX believes that the Supreme Court had grossly betrayed its mandate of interpreting laws in the interest of the public. There are undeniable facts presented by the TRO petitioners showing that the Toll Regulatory Board had abused its authority by granting the toll increase without any public consultation and upholding business interests despite its negative impact on the people.

TUTOL-SLEX co-convenor, Sammy Malunes said that the toll hike will lead to drastic increase in fares and consequently, rise in prices of goods and services, and additional costs for businesses dependent on transportation.

“The toll hike will cause an inevitable slump in the capacity of provincial traders and businessmen to transport their raw materials and finished products to and from Southern Luzon. Ultimately, we will all be victims of the anomalous favors given by the TRB to the South Luzon Tollway Corporation.”

Toll rates are bound to increase by an average of 277%. This means that class 1 vehicles travelling from Alabang to Calamba will have to pay the toll amounting to P77 from the present P22, class 2 vehicles or buses – P155 from the present P43 and class 3 or heavy trucks P232 from P65.

“We are planning on bringing the issue to the battlefield – the provinces which will be gravely affected by the unjust, illegal and anomalous SLEX toll hike. We now urge our fellow taxpayers to unite in opposing the looming toll increase in SLEX. We also urge all concerned government officials – governors, mayors and congressmen of the South Luzon provinces to stand up for their constituents by exhausting all forms to stop the toll hike.”

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano filed House Resolution No. 677 directing the House Committee on Transportation to investigate, in aid of legislation, the Toll Regulatory Board’s approved toll rate hike for the SLEX and its effects on the riding public. Several local officials had also expressed their intent to file similar resolutions in their provinces.

“Pres. Aquino has the final call whether he will let this injustice continue. The Toll Regulatory Board falls under his command. Should the toll rates increase, then Pres. Aquino is complicit to this betrayal of the peoples’ welfare. We challenge him to stop, once and for all, the unjust and illegal toll increase. D’Jay Lazaro

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