Jeepney drivers called on the government Sunday to approve a P5 fare increase as fuel prices continue to rise or face transport strikes across the country.
In an interview on radio dzBB, the president of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Ricardo Rebaño said the group was happy to provide a public service, but said he hoped the government would not simply watch them suffer as a result of high fuel prices.
The Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP), meanwhile, said it would hold a strike if the government does not raise jeepney fares.
LTOP president Orlando Marquez said they would hold off on the strike until a scheduled meeting with government officials on March 1.
LTOP wants the minimum jeepney fare raised by P3, from P9 to P12.
Unioil Petroleum Philippines said on Saturday that another round of fuel price hikes was scheduled this week, which would be the ninth consecutive week of increases since the start of the year.
The company said the price per liter of diesel may increase by P0.80 to P0.90, while gasoline prices may go up by P0.90 to P1.00 per liter.
Rebaño said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will conduct a hearing on March 8 on their appeal for a P5 fare increase. The group has also petitioned for an additional P1.50 for every kilometer exceeding the first four.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, meanwhile, called for the lifting of all public transport restrictions and the resumption of all public transport routes in anticipation of rising fuel prices.
“The protections accorded by additional public transport restrictions are marginal at best, and more public transport supply is a better guard against overcrowding when workplaces are beginning to normalize,” he said.
“The country could save as much as P1.4 billion in fuel every day by simply reverting to pre-pandemic public transport supply,” he added.
Salceda said the situation in the global markets would take a while to stabilize.
“Meanwhile, we are starting to have plans to go back to school and go to work. Oil prices will hurt the middle class more if they are forced to take private vehicles due to lack of alternatives,” he said.
The current public transport supply would not be able to service a resumption of face-to-face classes, he said.
Salceda also called for immediate implementation of the “pantawid pasada” subsidy for PUV drivers.
Meanwhile, Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera is backing the call for a special session to approve bills that would suspend the imposition of excise taxes on fuel amid skyrocketing pump prices.
“If it is really necessary and President Rodrigo Duterte calls for it, we are more than willing to take part in the special session with the end goal of providing much-needed relief to our people amid an unstoppable rise in crude prices,” she said.
Ordinary consumers have to bear the costs of nonstop oil price hikes having an adverse domino effect on the prices of goods and services, she said.
“The higher costs will be passed on to ordinary consumers who have no choice but to deal with rising prices of food, electricity, water and other goods and services,” she said.
A session would allow Congress to pass legislation suspending the fuel excise taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN Law, she said.
The suspension of such taxes would immediately bring down local pump prices by P6 per liter for diesel, P10 per liter for gasoline, P5 per liter for kerosene, and P33 per 11-kilogram cylinder for liquefied petroleum gas, she noted.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Ray Villafuerte said the Department of Energy should drop its “lackadaisical” approach to setting up a national strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) to ensure a sufficient inventory of oil products in the long term.
“Rather than taking their own sweet time about their SPR plan to help stabilize the domestic supply and prices of petroleum products, energy officials should start working triple time on the long-planned establishment of a national fuel reserve, more so now when the full-blown Russia-Ukraine conflict has raised fears that the global cost of oil could go up to as high as $120 per barrel in the days or weeks ahead,” he said.