No fare hikes before March – LTFRB

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) — With several petitions for fare hikes, transport regulators said the earliest it could decide on these would be by March.

Several jeepney groups, as well as the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association and Grab Philippines, have filed petitions for fare increases before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The petitions were based on the expected increase in the price of fuel following the implementation of the tax reform law.

"We will hear the side of commuters. If the commuters' group say we want time to reply to the petition, or if they are against it, they will be requesting for time to file. Usually 10-15 days 'yan. That would be somewhere mga  2nd or 3rd of week of February. Then you set it for hearing… If wala motion for postponement, o okay ba mga abugado nila, earliest siya March," said LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada on Wednesday.

(Translation: If the commuters' group is against it, they will request time to file a petition that would take 10 to 15 days. Then you set it for hearing, if there is no motion for postponement, then the earliest we can tackle fare hikes will be by March.)

Grab Philippines, for instance, wants to increase the fare of their Grabcar services by 6 percent to 10 percent, once fuel prices are adjusted.

Similarly, the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association wants to the flag down rate to go up, from the approved rate of ?40 last year to P50.

Jeepney drivers and operators are poised to ask the LTFRB for a P2 fare hike — this is on top of the pending P2 fare hike petition due to rising fuel prices in the past months.

Under the new tax reform law, price of gas will increase by P2.97 per liter and price of diesel will increase by P2.80 per liter. The Department of Energy said higher excise tax on fuel should only happen after January 15, when old stocks are sold.

Lizada said the LTFRB would need to conduct hearings and public consultations on the petitions first.

She added they will consult the National Economic and Development Authority to see the actual impact of the the new taxes on drivers, operators, and commuters.

"With this lower corporate tax so higher take-home pay sila, higher income on their end [With the lower corporate tax, the take-home pay is higher so income is higher]. (This) excise tax on fuel, what is the effect? We need to see all of these things,"  Lizada said. 

She added in 2012, the cost of diesel shot up to P47 per liter. But despite that cost, the fares were only at P8.50.