You have to hand it to the BS Aquino administration —it really has a great sense of timing. Imagine, the DOTC was able to pull a fast one during the holidays when Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya gave the green light for the MRT/LRT fare hike. The new and very much higher fare matrix was the first thing that greeted train commuters on the first working day of 2015—guaranteed to sober one up from a holiday hangover.
If you feel like you’re getting shafted by the very people who are supposed to have your best interest in mind, you’re not alone. More likely than not, the smart guys of DOTC must be saying that “what the public doesn’t know won’t hurt us” because they implemented the rate hikes without any real public consultation and at a time when the Supreme Court and the magistrates were on vacation mode. Hopefully, Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno will act expeditiously on petitions filed by concerned groups to stop the fare hike, since the CJ has the power to act on urgent petitions like a temporary restraining order or a status quo ante order even if the SC is in recess.
This “treacherous” move by the DOTC (to borrow the words of Senator Grace Poe) is certainly an urgent matter. Many of our buddies are angry at the thought that someone must be laughing his ass off thinking he put one over the public and Congress, coming as it was after the ratification of the P2.6-trillion 2015 budget with the DOTC given more than P12 billion to subsidize operations and fix kinks in the LRT/MRT systems. As Poe and Senator Chiz Escudero both pointed out, how come Abaya and his boys never mentioned anything about a fare hike during deliberations in Congress?
So the question is, what will DOTC do with the P12 billion it’s getting for subsidy and rehab expenses? This is where it gets interesting, because Abaya seems to be engaged in doublespeak. Last December, he said the revenue from the adjusted rates (estimated at P1 billion a year) will go to the private firm that owns and operates the MRT—contrary to his much earlier pronouncements that the fare hike will be used to improve train services as shown in the photo being circulated on Facebook and other social network sites.
Former party list congressman Teddy Casiño explains it all in his blog (http://teddycasino.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/6-lies-and-fallacies-on-the-lrtmrt-fare-hike/), exposing the lies and fallacies about the issue, in particular that baloney being floated around by this administration that people in Visayas and Mindanao are protesting against the MRT/LRT subsidies. (Actually, only three-and-a-half congressmen are making this preposterous claim, which President BS Aquino is using as basis to say that only a few are protesting the fare increase.)
As Casiño pointed out, that claim is “a fallacy.” If this were true, then spending public funds for roads, bridges and yes, trains in Cebu, Davao or anywhere else in the Visayas or Mindanao should also be considered an injustice to Metro Manilans. Crazy.
“Subsidizing trains or any mass transport system, especially in clogged Metro Manila which contributes at least 60 percent to the entire economy, certainly makes sense. In fact, the logical conclusion that should be drawn from this argument is that instead of cutting back subsidies for the trains in Metro Manila, government should also build trains in the Visayas and Mindanao to spur development in those areas,” Casiño wrote.
As usual, Congress will “look” into the issue to see if there is basis for the fare increase but we’re not holding our breath. Many of our buddies believe the public will just be treated to some kind of “moro-moro” probe, with the DOTC still able to railroad the fare hike down the throat of the commuting public. What’s happening is something that reeks of midnight train robbery, a disgruntled commuter muttered.
Jeers! to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for snubbing Ronda, a town in Cebu that suffered the worst damage during the onslaught of typhoon Seniang. Flashfloods caused massive damage to property and killed 14 people in Ronda, yet DSWD did not bother to send relief goods because—get this —the mayor did not write a request for help? Like, the mayor’s office was denuded and people were already drowning but Madame Dinky Soliman wants a black and white (or maybe an e-mail?) first before they send relief to the place where it is most needed?
Can’t blame people for being suspicious that perhaps the people are being punished because the mayor of Ronda, Mariano Blanco, happens to be a member of the United Nationalist Alliance with Vice President Jejomar Binay as chairman—who immediately sent food packs when he heard about the plight of the people. Critics of the vice president shouldn’t be surprised if despite the attacks against him, Binay continues to have higher ratings than other potential presidentiables (like someone who seems destined to be a bottom dweller).
Here’s an unsolicited advice to Secretary Dinky Soliman: Get a really short haircut and try to see beyond your purple bangs. Social welfare and services are meant for all Filipinos regardless of political color or affiliation. This government should not exclusively be for the benefit or interest of the yellows.
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