Virac commuters oppose 67% tricycle fare increase
posted 23-Jul-2018  ·  
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A petition for a 67-percent increase in tricycle fares in the capital town of Virac was met with opposition from commuters during a public hearing conducted by the Sangguniang Bayan last week.

The fare increase filed by the Federation of Virac Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (FEDVITODA) would hike the fare from the Virac Public Market to Palnab, Gogon, Francia and nearby barangays in the poblacion from the existing P9 to the proposed P15. The other destinations would also see a P6 increase in the existing fares.

Vice Mayor Arlynn Arcilla and the municipal council received the signed petition last June 18, 2018, with the proposal sent to the Committee on Public Utilities chaired by Councilor Rosie Olarte.

In the petition, FEDVITODA president Arlyn Molina claimed that the fare hike petition is in pursuit of the federation’s objective to promote and protect the interests of its members “who are all hand-to-mouth earners.”

The last time tricycle fares were increased in the capital town was in 2012, with the current P9 base fare approved when the cost of gasoline was still P42 per liter.

In the July 12, 2018 hearing conducted by the Committee on Public Information chaired by Councilor Susan Isidoro, FEDVITODA cited the increasing pump price of gasoline, spare parts, vulcanizing services and basic commodities as the reasons behind their petition.

“Unang-una, ang gasolina po, pataas nang pataas. May time na bababa, konti lang ang pagbaba. Kung hindi, mas malaki ang dagdag. Kasama rin po ang mga spare tires na dati ang gulong, P400. Ngayon, P700 na po. Hindi lang po ‘yan. Halos araw-araw po naming nae-experience. Dati ang service sa vulcanizing shop, is P20. Ngayon, P30 na po,” Molina disclosed.

As a housewife, she added, the total income of their family is not just enough to supply their daily food needs.

“Ang karneng baboy, nasa P170. Ngayon po, nasa P240 na po. Ang riliw po ngayon, nasa P100. Ang kilo ng bigas, nasa P50 na po. Kahit ang araw-araw nating juice, Tang, dati 11 pesos. Ngayon, P17 to P19,” she explained.

Molina further said the number of tricycle drivers in Virac was approximately 1,000 before but now, it is almost 3,000.

“Kung ang sweldo ng mga kawani ng gobyerno ay nagsitaasan at ang minimum wage ay ganundin, ito ay upang mapunan nito ang cost of living na tinatawag,” she added.

Articulating the concerns of commuters, Catanduanes National High Schoolo teacher Allan Villegas informed the body that when he shared this issue to his students, they answered that they would rather walk than pay the higher fares.

While he stated that they understand the plight and needs of the tricycle drivers, the fare increase should be at a reasonable level of ₱1 or ₱2.

CNHS Supreme Student Government president Mary Joy Tabor shared that one of the reasons for the high dropout rate in the island province’s biggest school is that students do not enough allowance, with dropouts expected to increase considering that the tricycle rides would be more expensive.

“Since we are all experiencing the effects of the TRAIN  law, siguro tataas pero not that high. I go for ₱1 or ₱2,” she added.

On the other hand, former Councilor Rene Abella suggested that a provisional fare increase of ₱1 or ₱2 can be implemented for one or two months for a faster implementation, with another hearing to be done after this to discuss the final increase. .

“Sa tingin ko po, ang presyo ng langis ay hindi na po tatagal na mataas, madali na po ‘yang bababa. Sa katunayan, sa US and China trade war, hihina po ang pangangailangan sa langis at bababa ang presyo nito. Sa katunayan, nasa 80 dollars per barrel ang langis, ngayon, 74.6 dollars na lang,” he said.

Also coming up during the discussion were issues regarding colorum tricycles, overcharging, drivers’ hygiene, drivers’ failure to give change to commuters, not wearing proper uniform and ignoring pedestrian lanes.

“Sabi ko ngani kay Senior Inspector Ariel Buraga, i-priority na idakop yung mga naka-colorum na illegal kaysa duman sa mga dai naka-uniform ta unfair man duman sa gagawad na legal,” Councilor Olarte said.

The veteran legislator also added that their office is always open for complaints from the public that need to be given appropriate action.

Passengers just need to get the board number of the tricycle and the committee will invite the passenger to a dialogue with the driver. Olarte bared that due process will be observed, with light violations resulting in the suspension of the driver and for serious infractions, the tricycle’s LTOP will be canceled.

Summing up the key points in the hearing, Councilor Isidoro said the SB will consider an increase of P1 or P2 pending further cost increases, with the police and the LGU task force to launch a campaign against colorum tricycles.

The vice chairman of the public utilities committee, Councilor Reynante Bagadiong, said the body will consider the suggestions in making the new fare matrix but at the same time appealed to the TODAs to help the local government in the campaign against colorum vehicles as they, the drivers themselves, know which among the tricycles in their barangays are colorum. He said he has yet to hear of TODA reporting to the LGU the plate number of a colorum tricycle.

Committee member Councilor Nel Asanza told those present that after the petition is resolved, he will try to craft an ordinance providing for an automatic fare increase matrix so that there would be no need to call for hearings every time gas pump prices are increased or decreased as it takes too much time.

He also said it is also unfair for the riding public that when the fuel price is reduced, there is no corresponding reduction in the transport fares.

In closing, Councilor Olarte stressed to the tricycle drivers and operators that the council will have to carefully weigh the issues before making its decision.

“Let’s be frank. If we think the provisional increase is proper, we will do it. If not, we will follow the correct procedure in approving an ordinance,” she said.

Also present during the hearing were Councilors Hermin Zafe and Virgilio Candelaria, teachers and students, newly elected barangay officials and commuters.

Olarte told the Tribune that she will consult the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on whether it is possible for an LGU to approve a provisional fare increase.

FEDVITODA officials assured the body and the public that they would just wait for the decision of the he wamunicipal council.

However, several commuters have complained that some unscrupulous drivers are now charging more than the existing fares. A student bound for Calatagan from Gogon told the Tribune that he was not given change for the P20 he gave for the trip which usually costs P12. Another also said he was charged P25 for the ride from the fountain area to Calatagan.

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