Poor and middle class commuters raise more signatures vs fare hike

As the DOTC and Malacañang remain hell-bent in preparing for the full privatization of vital transport services, the riding public from all walks of life join the call to junk the proposed increase in fares of the MRT and the LRT through protests around Metro Manila.

Urban poor residents of Pasay City held a noise barrage protest and petition signing drive at Pasay Rotunda where the MRT and LRT lines meet at EDSA. They gathered the signatures of MRT commuters to be included in the petition of the RILES Network which will be presented at the scheduled public consultation from February 4 to 8.

According to Sammy Malunes, spokesperson of Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network, the Department of Transportation and Communication is presently on a mission to dictate everything in order to pursue the national government program of public-private partnership.

“The DOTC hierarchy is centralizing everything to the point of acting like dictators holding all the agencies under its unmerciful hands. We must not allow them to do that since the service of mass transport should remain under the administration of people who do not regard it as a lucrative business venture. Rather, it should remain in the hands of genuine public servants who knows their job and commits to their pledge to serve the taxpaying public,” Malunes added.

In Makati, professionals and office employees of banks and telecommunications companies in the area also demanded the cessation of the planned increase noting that any increase in expenses will also affect the budget of the middle class of Makati who rely on the MRT for efficient transportation to and from their work.

According to Charlito Arevalo, president of GATS-PLDT (union of supervisors in PLDT), they also oppose the fare hike of the MRT and the LRT because it will gravely affect the riding public who are carrying the burden of continuous price increases of oil and primary commodities, the increase in tolls and taxi fares, and looming increase in EVAT. “There is no other recourse but to unite against the continued abandonment of the government’s responsibility to serve its constituents.”

Meanwhile, Mark Oliver Gonzales, president of   Planters Bank Employees Association said that they are adding their voice to the widespread clamor to stop the fare increases since the government seemed to be covering its ear in the face of continuous protests.

“The Aquino government should listen to the people. What we need now are not price hikes but wage hike. Otherwise, we will continue to take to the streets to make our points across.”

The Makati employees are also protesting in the name of millions of commuters who are less fortunate to receive very low wages and will not be able to cope with the increase in fares. RILES Network commits to continuing their protest actions and information dissemination in the days leading to the public consultations this February. D’Jay Lazaro

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