A YOUTH group condemned the the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for its recently approved P1 fare hike for the first 4 kilometers for public utility jeepney in three regions, including Metro Manila.

In a statement sent to the media, the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) said that the hike may be viewed as a welcome development for thousands of jeepney drivers to augment their declining income. But for ordinary commuters made up of minimum wage-earners, job-seekers, students and ordinary folks with intermittent incomes, this is the latest challenge the people face on top of increasing prices of basic commodities.

They claim that “the hike not only aggravates the budget constraints of the poor as a result of the inflationary push triggered by the tax reform policy of the Duterte administration but is also another cheap attempt to address the long-standing plight of drivers”.

“Instead of addressing head-on the collapse of the income of jeepney drivers by repealing the oil deregulation law or suspending the collection of excise taxes on petroleum products, the Duterte administration opted to make the general public bear the burden,” said Jade Lyndon Mata, spokesperson of the group.

He lamented that, “it is equally condemnable that the government upheld their collection of taxes and secure the profits of multinational corporations and Chinese creditors who gobble up the incomes of the poor”.

SPARK proposed that the administration is a clear candidate for a loyalty award for its allegiance to the economic interests of the elite and its inability to show empathy for the ordinary folk who are most affected by the sheer weight of each anti-poor policy they have passed thus far.

They say that officials are trying hard but failing to obscure the fact that the real solution to our present economic handicap is for them to issue a price control order, repeal the TRAIN Law, decree living wages and abolish the poverty-inducing contractualization.

“The fare hike merely placed the issue of wage increases and the urgency to repeal the TRAIN Law front and center. Further denial of the demands for economic relief is a political weapon the people will aim at the Palace,” Mata averred.

Furthermore, the group warned that there is a big possibility of enduring fare hikes in the coming months. The recent fare hike approved by the LTFRB was only for the petition filed by transport groups in September 2017, four months even before the TRAIN Law was implemented. Another ten to twelve peso fare hike petition is yet to be tabled by its board members.

“This is just a preface. The worst is yet to come,” the group’s statement reads.

Submitted by Jade Lyndon Mata, Spokesperson @ 0965-2018105