MANILA – The fare hike in the Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit that started on Sunday drew support from various leaders of the House of Representatives, particularly from groups of congressmen from Visayas and Mindanao, a Palace official said on Sunday.
”Although there are groups who are opposing the fare increase, there are people who are supporting it and these are groups who represent the people in the House of Representatives,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a Radyo ng Bayan interview.
Coloma said the House leaders have expressed their support to MR/LRT fare hike “as a matter of the exercise of political will because this fare increase is long overdue.”
”And because we have been implementing low fare, even the previous administrations were not able to implement needed improvements such as the acquisition of new trains and upgrading of the facilities of our mass transport system,” Coloma explained.
Among the House leaders who support the MRT/LRT fare hike include: Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone of the Visayan bloc; Centrist Democratic Party-Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Mindanao bloc; Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez of the central Luzon group; Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas of Ilocano bloc; Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of Bicol bloc and Laguna Rep. Jaoquin Chipeco Jr. of Southern Tagalog bloc.
”They expressed support. They are the people’s representatives and that’s why we have to consider that many groups of our population are supporting the LRT and MRT fare hike,” Coloma said.
Coloma assured the improvement of the mass transport system with the arrival of the additional light rail vehicles or coaches for the LRT in September.
Meanwhile, Coloma said the government will respect the rights of any groups which will elevate their opposition even up to the Supreme Court (SC).
”We just want to appeal to those who will join the protest to consider the general welfare of the people by not blocking the traffic,” Coloma appealed.
Coloma, however, assured the government law enforcers will exercise maximum tolerance “by following the rules of conduct and respect the right to form legitimate protest.”
Coloma also assured that every single cents that will be collected from the fare increase will be spent properly in improving the services, regular maintenance and safety of the passengers of the mass transport system.
Coloma said the MRT and LRT have not increase fare for the last 10 years, forcing the government to subsidize the huge amount for the maintenance of the mass transport system.
”The long-overdue fare increase has delayed the investment for large-scale improvement of the facilities such as the acquisition of new train coaches which is now being addressed by the present administration,” Coloma explained.
The Palace official also explained that part of the fare increase is part of the implementation of the ‘user pay’ principle under Philippine Development Plan for 2011 to 2016
”Those who used the services should pay more and most of the people using the MRT and LRT are those who are living in the National Caital Region and not the whole population of the country,” Coloma said.
Under the new MRT fare matrix, the maximum fare a passenger will pay for the full 17-kilometer stretch from the North Avenue station to the Taft Avenue will increase from Php15 to Php28.
On the other hand, the maximum LRT 1 fare will increase from Php15 to Php30 for a single journey while the new LRT 2 fare is Php25 from Php15.