House probe on MRT, LRT fare hike welcomed

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 30 2014 03:23 PM | Updated as of Dec 30 2014 11:23 PM

MANILA – Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares welcomed the House committee's investigation into the proposed fare hike for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) rail systems.

Colmenares and his Bayan Muna colleague Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate have filed House Resolution 111, which seeks for a probe on the proposed fare hikes.

“I just hope that Chairman Cesar Sarmiento being an official of the Liberal Party would not affect his analysis and judgement of the MRT/LRT fare hike issue. I also hope that the hearing would not just be used by administration allies as a venue to justify the fare hike,” Colmenares said in a statement.

He also pointed out that “the argument that people in Mindanao or Visayas are subsidising through public funds the MRT even if they don't use it is a dangerous divide and rule tactic of the short sighted policy makers in Malacanang. These same people find nothing wrong with using the Malampaya funds, which is also a public fund, for the emergency powers and Interruptible Load Program (ILP) of Luzon even if it will not be used in Visayas.”

“The people of Luzon should not begrudge public spending for Agus Pulanggi Dam even if they will not use its electricity, or complaint about public funding for a hospital in the Visayas even if they will never be confined in it. Because this is how public funds should be spent--for the needs of the entire country,” he added.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, meanwhile, denounced the fare increase, saying government does not have justifiable reasons to arbitrarily increase MRT and LRT fares.

"This is ironic and totally out of whack, the DOTC cannot even make the MRT and LRT run efficiently and safely. Much more it is mired graft and corruption issues and charges worth billions of pesos hounding the DOTC over the MRT,” said Albano, who is also a member for the Minority Bloc of the House Committee on Transportation.

"Yet from out of nowhere, like despots and modern-day bureaucratic bullies to President Aquino's avowed ‘bosses,’ they slap totally unconscionable, arbitrary, unjustifiable rate increases to all hapless and helpless MRT-LRT commuters," he added.

He also cited recent findings by experts from Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway, which found the overall performance of the MRT “unsatisfactory.”

The proposed hike for January 2015 will increase the base fare for the LRT and MRT to P11 from the current P10, with an additional P1 charge per additional kilometer.