MANILA - With a new oil price hike of more than P6 per liter set to hit motorists next week, drivers and operators of public utility vehicles are bracing for its impact on their earnings amid a still-pending petition to increase fares.
But the leader of a transport federation said Saturday that any action on their part in the coming weeks to ask government to grant fare hikes or implement measures to curb rising oil prices would be ineffective since the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is on its way out in less than a month.
Stop & Go Coalition national president Zaldy Ping-ay told ABS-CBN News they and other groups plan to wait until president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. takes office before they again push for action.
“Wala na ring saysay kasi ginawa na namin ‘yon. Ngayon pa kaya na malapit pa silang bumaba, umalis?” Ping-ay said in a phone interview.
“Kaya siguro, baka sa susunod na lang na pamunuan, administrasyon kami aapela, kung sakaling itong pagtaas ng diesel ay patuloy na tumaas.”
(It’s no use because we have already done that. What more now that they are close to stepping down? That’s why we might just appeal to the next leadership, administration if the rise in diesel prices keeps on.)
Ping-ay said the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ignored their earlier calls to implement a years-long proposal to automatically readjust fares according to changes in the price of oil.
He said his group, along with others such as the Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP) and Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), have begun considering alternatives to deal with the rising oil prices.
Among these, he said, is switching to electrical jeepneys.
But he said they would only discuss these in detail if new heads of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and LTFRB are appointed.
He said their camp had proposed to Marcos Jr.'s camp to appoint former LTFRB chair Thompson Lantion to the DoTr and former LTFRB executive director Robert Peig as LTFRB chair.
“Kami’y nakikiusap sa bagong pangulo ng Pilipinas na sana pakinggan po kami, dahil alam namin kung sino ang mas nakakaintindi sa problema sa aming hanay,” Ping-ay said.
(We request that the new president of the Philippines listen to us, since we know who understands our sector’s problems more.)
The incoming Marcos administration has yet to declare its picks for the agencies.
‘BASKET OF SOLUTIONS’
At a transport terminal in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, jeepney driver Allan Martin Berjes echoed the sentiments of the transport groups.
At noontime, he had only begun his second ride of the day in 5 hours.
He said this was because they are still servicing fewer commuters, many of whom are patronizing the government’s free rides.
Without a fare hike, he said, more oil price hikes would only cut down their earnings.
“Natapos na eleksyon at lahat, wala naman. Kaya kami napapagod na rin, wala ding nangyayari. Puro naman kaming hinaing wala namang natutupad. E ‘di wala na rin.”
(The election is over, and nothing. That’s why we’re tired since nothing happens. We express our frustrations but they are not addressed. So it’s useless.)
The LTFRB considers the free rides as part of their “basket of solutions” to cushion the effect of the oil price increase.
These include fuel subsidy for transport operators and the P7-billion service contracting program behind the “libreng sakay”.
“What we are trying to do, ina-address natin yung issue ng sustainability in some other ways without having to raise the fare,” LTFRB chair Martin Delgra III said on Friday.
However, only 70% of qualified operators (186,000 out of 264,000) have claimed their subsidies, LTFRB executive director Maria Kristina Cassion told a televised public briefing Saturday.
This was because others have not claimed their subsidy cards.
“Paano sila magkakaroon ng benepisyo kung hindi nila bigyan ng effort na pumunta sa Landbank para kunin ang kanilang card?” Cassion said.
(How can they receive benefits if they would not put in the effort to go to the bank and get their card?)
Beneficiaries may first check the LTFRB website (LINK: https://ltfrb.gov.ph/) for the list of the fuel subsidy beneficiaries.
—with a report from Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News