Youth alliance begins ‘Black Friday’ protest series

Youth alliance DERAIL THE HIKES staged simultaneous protests in several MRT and LRT stations today, while vowing to launch actions similar to last year’s 2010 anti-education budget cut strikes in campuses.

Youths and students against the proposed 56% fare hike in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems picketed the LRT-2 Cubao Station, Pureza Station near the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Legarda Station near the University Belt, and the LRT-1 Central Station near the De La Salle University.

According to DERAIL THE HIKES convener Terry Ridon, various youth groups under their alliance will hold noise barrages and other forms of protests near MRT and LRT stations every Friday in the following weeks until the Aquino administration withdraws its approval of the hikes which raises the current fare range of P11-P15 to P15-P30.

“The benefits of the MRT and LRT cannot be measured simply by pesos and profits. By allowing people to reach their destinations, such as students’ schools and workers’ offices, cheaply, quickly and in safety, the two train systems provide an immensely important service” said Ridon.

Meanwhile, Anakbayan spokesperson Vencer Crisostomo dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ claims that the firms which built the MRT are ‘in the red’.

“How can they be losing money if the government guaranteed that they would have a 15% return on their investments in the MRT for 25 years?” said the youth leader.

He added “in fact, these payments are the reason why the government is losing a lot of money on the MRT. What they are subsidizing aren’t just the actual operations, but the profits of foreign banks and other corporations involved in its construction”.

“Noynoy wants to attract more foreign investors and big capitalists into buying up transportation and other social services. To this, he is showing to the latter that he will allow them to get their profits by squeezing the consumers dry. This is the very essence of the fare hikes” said Crisostomo.

Finally, Crisostomo urged youths to join the weekly pickets, as well as to launch other creative forms of protests in their schools, workplaces, and communities.

“Remember, striking youths managed to reduce this year’s budget cuts to State Universities by taking to the streets” reminded the youth leader. D’Jay Lazaro

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