By Denise A. Valdez
THE COLLECTIVE group of five jeepney organizations said it is willing to withdraw a fare hike appeal to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) if the group will be allowed a P4 to P5 discount on fuel.
In a hearing on Wednesday, Roberto “Ka Obet” Martin of Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila & Suburb Drivers Association Nationwide, Inc. (PASANG-MASDA) said a discount privilege on diesel for jeepney drivers and operators would convince them to retain the P8 fare for jeepneys.
This was in response to a question by LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lourdes A. Lizada on how much a fuel price decrease would make the P8 fare justifiable to them.
Together with PASANG-MASDA, jeepney groups Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO), Land Transportation Organization of the Philippines (LTOP) and Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP) are seeking a P2 fare hike due to the rising price of fuel. Mr. Martin said the price of diesel has increased by almost P10 since January this year, when the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law was passed.
Ms. Lizada said the board sees the urgency of granting a fare hike immediately, but needs to be thorough in the process.
“We need to study well lahat ng nangyayari [everything that’s happening], not only the pump price. That’s why we always invite NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) for a social impact assessment. We need to see the bigger picture,” she said.
“We only see the pump price and the fare. What are the other factors we need to consider to say the fare is fair for both parties, operator and rider? That’s what we try to get,” she said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Mr. Martin said jeepney drivers use up 15 to 20 liters of fuel for short distances every day. Using P45 as basis price of diesel means they spend almost P900 on fuel every day.
In March, the Department of Energy signed a deal with fuel companies Petron, Shell and Phoenix Petroleum to give a P1 per liter discount to jeepneys and taxis in light of the effects of the TRAIN law. But Mr. Martin said this was not enough.
“We barely felt the P1 discount because from January up to the present they raised the cost of fuel to almost P10. The P1 discount? We don’t feel it,” he told reporters.
LTFRB is set to meet with oil companies on June 15 to discuss the fuel vouchers of the TRAIN law. These fuel vouchers are one of the measures of the law to cushion the effects of the excise tax on fuel. Last week, the Department of Transportation said it might require jeepney drivers and operators to upgrade their units first before distributing the vouchers.