A petition has been made by the Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative (Citrasco) to increase the minimum public utility jeepney (PUJ) fare in Cebu from P7.50 to P10.
Workers and teachers alike are protesting against the petition. The petition is scheduled to be heard by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 on June 24 of this year.
The vice chair for the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) for the Visayas, Annabelle dela Serna, said the P10-minimum jeepney fare will not be feasible in Cebu because the minimum wage is not parallel to it. The minimum wage is unlike the one in Manila and is relatively very low.
Furthermore, Art Barrit of the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said his group will oppose the petition for fare increase because they know that the purchasing power of the workers will be greatly impacted. It will certainly decrease their take-home pay. He said the planned increase will compromise the shoe-string budget of the workers’ families. He expressed his support for the drivers, but according to him, this case is an exception.
“We support the move of the drivers, but not this time. Instead, we are asking the companies to institute car-pooling for the workers to maintain the purchasing power and it will help save fossil-based fuel and help reduce traffic,” Barrit said.
Spokesman of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Dennis Derige, said an increase will be an additional burden to the general commuters especially that the recent P13 cost of living allowance (COLA) has no impact against the rising prices of commodities.
However, Derige said he acknowledges and understands that PUJ drivers also need to cope and continuously adjust to the rising cost of fuel. This also reduces their take-home pay.
“On this basis, we will support any call for any government subsidy for PUJ drivers to mitigate the impact of the fuel hike. But we must never lose sight and must preserve more on the struggle to junk the oil deregulation law,” he said.
The said petition from Citrasco is drawing mixed reactions from drivers themselves.
For example, in an interview with Sun Star, public utility jeepney (PUJ) driver Orcel Tonacao said the P2.50 fare increase proposed by Citrasco is too much, especially for students.
“Dako ra! Kung ako estudyante, dako ra kaayo’ng P10 nga pliti para nako (That’s too much! If I were a student, a fare of P10 is too steep),” Tonacao said.
In another interview, another jeepney driver, Isabelo Bologon, admits that while he will benefit from the P2.50 fare hire for PUJs, he also takes pity on the students who cannot afford the fare.
For the upcoming scheduled hearing, the LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon said that his office will invite stakeholders who will be affected by Citrasco’s petition.