MANILA – Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Tuesday that the price increase for Light Rail Transit and Metro Rail Transit is not enough to cover the amount subsidized by the government to ensure their operation.
“Every year we have subsidized MRT with quite a big sum. This year, we have lessened it to P10 billion,” said Lacierda.
The yearly amount subsidized by the government is at P12 billion.
He clarified, “We are not saying we are taking out the entire subsidy. Let me be clear with that,” he said. “So of those P2 billion that we can save, we are going to allocate the resources outside of (Metro Manila), or in other areas like the Visayas and Mindanao.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said that they have replaced Renato San Jose as general manager of MRT-3. Roman Buenafe will now be in charge.
“We did not take away the subsidy. The subsidy is still there. And if you compare it with the other modes of transportation, it is still lower compared to the other – the buses, air-con or regular,” Lacierda explained.
He also mentioned that prior to the price hike, they have consulted various groups. Those who are protesting against it are those who are not willing to accept the fare increase.
“If I recall, there were consultations made. In fact, Bayan or Bayan Muna were obviously not happy with it,” Lacierda pointed out. “It was reported in the papers that consultations were made and Bayan et al were present and they were not happy with it.”
Meanwhile, he also commented on criticisms coming from Senators Francis Escudero and Grace Poe about the fare hike being unnecessary because the government has allocated funds through DOTC.
“Certainly, we appreciate the work of the legislators. But that’s only to bring… from where we are to improve the system. Just because we put a budget for this year, doesn’t mean everything is okay,” he said.
He added, “But, certainly, we’d like to have a system that is at par with other countries. The bigger picture is not focused simply on MRT itself. The bigger picture is really to identify what can we use, what resources can we allocate to the other regions also.”
Lacierda also said that this is not the first time that they have raised the issue of increasing the rates for the train system.