Transportation groups in Cordillera demanded inclusion after the region was not included on the provisional fare increase of P1 by the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) last June 9, 2022.
The fare hike will cover jeepneys in Metro Manila, Regions 3, and Region 4. The P1 increase was granted because of the continuous increase of oil and other petroleum products implemented by oil companies nationwide resulting in a P10 minimum fare for the first four kilometers. Meanwhile, taxi drivers also requested an increase of 10 to 20 pesos on the initial fare from 35 pesos.
Moreover, Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP) President of Cordillera and Region 1, Patricio Evangelista, expressed his disappointment towards the non-inclusion of Cordillera and other regions.
Evangelista added that highland drivers suffered more than the lowland jeepney drivers with such factors of higher cost of spare parts and the geographical feature of the region that has ascending and descending roads. These forces the highland jeepney drivers to seek other sources of income due to the high cost of maintenance and the difficulty of meeting the daily quota or “boundary.”
“Narigat mahabol ti boundary uray ag-double time kami,” expressed Cliford Lipayso, a jeepney driver in La Trinidad.
The data of LTOP show 50% of the jeepney drivers and operators voluntarily stopped their operations due to the above reasons, especially those who did not receive financial subsidy from the government.
Furthermore, Evangelista said that the government-subsidized Libreng Sakay program had affected regular drivers since commuters would prefer to ride on a free fare vehicle. To date, LTFRB added more routes in La Trinidad and Baguio bringing more burdens towards transport groups.
“Kasla awan lang pay met [start of the Libreng Sakay program]… ngem nu manayunan daytoy, awan a maguyod ti pasaheros, idi aglibreng sakay kami met kuma (The effect of the Libreng Sakay program is not felt now but if more Libreng Sakay buses will be added, we will have less passengers. In that case, it is better to be part of the Libreng Sakay),” commented Lipayso.
Among the commuters on Libreng Sakay bus, Kate Kimpay, an employee working at Baguio City stated, “actually isupay nga kabawasan ti gastos karkaru kanyak nga daily ak nga agcom-commute.”
“Ang laking tipid namin dito, 5x a day yata kami for 4 days nga stay namin,” captioned Denny Mae, a tourist who posted a viral video on TikTok about her experience on the Libreng Sakay bus.
Catherine Gavia , a tourist from Baler who experienced the Libreng Sakay added, “dahil sa libreng sakay, syempre bilang isang turista mababawasan na ang travel expenses naming sa paglibot-libot dito sa city kasi instead na gagastusin naming sa transportation, pwede na naming ibili ng pagkain o kaya souvenir.”
From the previous years, LTOP expressed their disappointment as Evangelista stated that they had been consistent in sending petitions prior to the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war because of the same reasons.
However, in an interview last June 14, LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra III stated that they had coordinated with the Department of Energy in addressing the issues and do not want to interfere with what the board had decided on the pending issues because everything is still being discussed.
By Ezra James Felix