Transport groups seek fare hike as fuel costs rise

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 8) — Transport groups are seeking an increase in fares next week as drivers grapple with higher fuel costs, on top of reduced passenger demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pasang Masda national vice president Jojo Martin told CNN Philippines' The Exchange they will ask the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for a ₱2 to ₱3 fare hike, as diesel prices have risen to nearly ₱48 per liter.

RELATED: Big-time fuel price hike set on Oct. 5 

"Ang aming mga drivers po ay halos dumapa na sa pagha-hanapbuhay. Sa sunod-sunod pong pagtaas ng produktong petrolyo, marahil ito po'y isang bagay na dapat maunawaan din po ng ating mga mahal na mananakay," Martin added.

[Translation: Our drivers are already overburdened. With the consecutive increases in prices of petroleum products, perhaps this is one thing our beloved passengers should understand as well.]

Meanwhile, Laban Konsyumer president Vic Dimagiba acknowledged the price hikes are weighing on the most vulnerable sectors of society.

"These oil price hikes will keep haunting us," he told The Exchange in a separate interview.

Dimagiba also emphasized the need for government to have a ready response in a situation like this, instead of just doing something only it happens.

"They should have...the emotional responsibility to feel the financial difficulty of the sector affected," the consumer group leader said.

Should the government not heed their call, Martin suggested fuel subsidies or discounts instead, while Dimagiba proposes "momentarily" suspending the collection of excise taxes on fuel products while their costs remain high.

Department of Energy-Oil Industry Management Bureau director Rino Abad said the government has been providing cash assistance to the affected sector, especially amid the pandemic.

However, Martin said "almost 80%" of jeepney drivers have yet to receive any aid from authorities.