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LTFRB rolls back jeepney fare to P9.

The minimum jeepney fare in Metro Manila and nearby provinces has been rolled back to P9 from the current P10 due to declining oil prices.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued Board Resolution No. 91 on Monday following a directive from Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Over several weeks, diesel prices have dropped, registering at P43.75 per liter from a high of P49.73 in October.

Based on the LTFRB order, the minimum jeep fare will be P9 for the first 4 kilometers in the following areas: Metro Manila and the Calabarzon and Central Luzon regions.

However, the fare decrease will be provisional, meaning the LTFRB could raise the rate back to P10 should there be a surge in oil prices. The new minimum fare rate will take effect 15 days after the publication of the LTFRB order in a newspaper.

Seeking a balance

The rollback is the latest in a protracted struggle by the LTFRB to set fair jeepney fares while seeking to balance the interests of the riding public and transport groups.

It was prompted by Tugade's directive to the LTFRB 'to balance the fares ... with the repeated [oil price] rollbacks' in areas covered by the board's Oct. 18 order raising the minimum fare rates of jeepneys and buses to P2 and P1, respectively.

LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra III said the board resolution was without prejudice to the pending petition filed by a consumer group earlier this month to return the minimum jeep fare

to P8.

The petition, filed by United Filipino Commuters and Consumers representatives Arlis Acao and Rodolfo Javellana and scheduled to be heard today, argued that the Oct. 18 fare hike was moot given the trend of declining oil prices.

Unfair, antipoor

The fare rollback, however, was criticized by Zeny Maranan, president of the transport group, Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap), who called it unfair and antipoor.

'What will we do with the matrices we paid for the recent fare hike? We could barely afford the P560 needed to implement the P10 fare, now we have to pay another round to charge lower fares?' she said.

Fejodap was among four transport groups that filed a fare increase petition in 2017 that led to the Oct. 18 hikes. Before charging the higher rate, however, jeepney drivers were required to get a fare matrix from the LTFRB for P560 each.

'When we first appealed for a hike, the price of diesel was still at P33,' she said. 'Now it's even higher than when we first filed, and yet they would still roll it back? What kind of policy are Tugade and Delgra practicing? Is this how they treat the poor?' Maranan said.

She also lamented the government's proposal to recall the suspension of the second round of fuel excise tax increase.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Dec 4, 2018
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