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Transport strike looms

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

A transport group leader in Negros Occidental issued a warning of a possible stoppage of operations of public transportations with the unstoppable hike in prices of fuel.

Jessie Ortega, secretary general of the Samahan Ng Mga Tsuper at Operators Negros (STONE), yesterday said that they will have a meeting with other transport groups, especially the FEBACDA (Federation of Bacolod Drivers Association) to determine what action they will take, following denial by the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board on a petition by a driver’s group in Manila to increase a fare rate of P3 in the first four kilometers.

Transport groups demanded fare rate increases, in response to the eight consecutive weeks of fuel price hikes.

Ortega said that they are only asking increase in fare rate for the first four kilometers.

Fuel prices have increased anew this week at P1.80 per liter for gasoline, P1.50 per liter for diesel and P1.30 per liter for kerosene.

“With the series of increase in fuel prices. Ortega said drivers are inclined to stop operations, as they do not have take home pays anymore,” Ortega stressed.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that it was looking at fuel subsidies and direct aid to both public utility drivers and passengers to avoid having to increase fares for public transport.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, in a statement said, that DOTr believed it was “not the right time” to raise fares, with the country’s workforce still barely recovering from the impact of closures and restrictions to businesses and jobs.

“We need to balance the needs of drivers and the ability of our commuters during this pandemic,” he said. “So instead of directly increasing fares, we are pushing for financial aid for drivers and commuters.”

Among others, he said, they were looking at possible uniform discounts on public utility vehicles (PUVs) across all gas stations nationwide.*

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