MANILA, Philippines - As various transport groups staged a protest caravan on Thursday, the Department of Transportation and Communication said it was still evaluating the petition for a provisional fare increase for jeepneys.
Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas said it is taking all factors, including the potential rise in wages and commodity prices, into consideration before making a decision on the provisional fare hike.
"The matter of provisional fare increase is not exclusive to jeepney drivers and operators. We want to evaluate if this will, for example, result in petitions for a wage increase. These things are directly and indirectly connected," he said, in a statement.
Transport groups conducted a protest caravan from Quezon City Circle to Makati, in protest of the high oil prices and the delay in the decision on the fare hike petition.
Roxas said the government is keeping an "open mind" on the fare hike, amid higher prices of oil and spare parts.
"The last time the LTFRB approved an increase in jeepney fares was in July 2008, when the price of diesel went up to P52 per liter. Although the price of diesel now averages P48 per liter, the prices of spare parts have increased since 2008," he said.
When the government reverted the basic fare of jeepneys to P8, the cost of tires went up by an average of P300, batteries by P330, belts by P15, and engine oil by P60 per liter.
On the proposal to scrap the value-added tax on fuel, Roxas said this should be evaluated thoroughly.
"The public is relying so much on social services that are being funded from what we collect from VAT. These include salaries for teachers and other government programs like conditional cash transfer,” he said.
The LTFRB said it will come up with a decision on the provisional fare increase next week, after it has received the petitions of transport groups from other regions.