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MANILA, Philippines – Public hearings on the lowering of jeepney fares and of flagdown rates for taxis, in light of steadily declining fuel prices, have been set on July 10 over the objections of taxi operators.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Jaime Jacob said Monday they will tackle together in one hearing the issue of reducing by P10 the taxi flagdown rates, now at P35; and cutting jeepney fares from P8 to P7.50. The hearings are set amid a series of rollbacks in the prices of gas, diesel and auto-LPG.
"It's about time we reviewed the fares, not just for taxis but for other public utility vehicles," said Jacob.
Earlier, the National Council for Commuter Safety and Protection (NCCSP) filed a series of petitions to bring down jeepney fares, even as taxi operators opposed a move to archive their earlier bid for additional rates as petroleum prices decline.
According to Jacob, although the NCCSP did not submit a formal petition on the reduction of taxi flagdown rates, the LTFRB Board still considers as a formal petition to reduce flagdown rates the group’s earlier manifestation opposing a taxi fare hike.
"That’s why we added one more hearing so the taxi operators can submit position papers,” said Jacob.
Meanwhile, the taxi operators’ group PNTOA is opposing the conduct of public hearings. It noted that NCCSP did not submit a formal petition to roll back flagdown rates; and the prices of gasoline and auto-LPG had not sufficiently been reduced despite several months of declining world oil prices and rollbacks of pump prices.
Bong Suntay, presidente ng PNTOA, argued that when the LTFRB approved higher taxi fares in 2010, the gasoline prices stood at P45/L and for auto LPG, it was P23-24. Now, despite 12 rollbacks since January 2012, gasoline price is still at P49-50 /L and auto LPG, at P27.
Suntay also pointed out that rates of electricity, water and spare parts---important to taxi operations—remain high.
"To be fair to the industry, petroleum price should not be the sole consideration. LTFRB should be consistent; when all those things go down, then we can consider a fare rollback. As of now there is no sound basis for considering the cutbacks," said Suntay.