SC refuses to issue temporary restraining order
RAIL commuters failed to get any relief from the Supreme Court (SC) as the tribunal did not stop implementation of higher fare rates when it tackled several petitions assailing the government’s decision to adjust fares in Light Rail Transit 1, LRT 2 and Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3).
Instead of issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO), the High Court on Tuesday directed concerned government agencies to answer petitions filed by various groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or Bayan.
Ordered to submit their respective positions were Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Light Rail Transit Authority Administrator Honorito Chaneco, MRT 3 Officer-in-Charge Renato San Jose, MRT Corp. and Light Rail Manila Consortium.
The petitioners questioned the legality of the fare increases, saying the Department of Transportation and Communications failed to conduct proper public consultation, a prerequisite for any fare increase in public transportation.
Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes expressed disappointment over the failure of the High Court to issue a TRO.
“The sufferings of the commuters will continue. The illegal fare hikes will continue. Only the government and private traders will benefit. This means during the visit of the Pope, they will earn more because devotees will surely take the trains. This is very sad because this is contrary to the message of Pope Francis to take care of the poor instead of favoring big business. We will not stop in our advocacy,” Reyes said.
There are more or less 1.3 million daily train patrons in Metro Manila.
At least four petitions have been filed at the SC questioning the train fare adjustments.
Under the new rates, fare for an MRT 3 ride from Baclaran in Pasay City to Roosevelt station in Quezon City went up to P30 from P20; fare for an LRT 2 ride from Recto station in Manila to Santolan station in Pasig City increased from P15 to P25; and fare for an LRT 1 ride from Roosevelt in Quezon City to Taft station in Pasay City rose to P28 from P15.
Besides Bayan, other petitioners were Teodoro Casiño, former LRTA administrator Melquiades. Robles, Kilusang Mayo Uno chairman Elmer Labog, RILES Network spokesman Sammy Malunes, Courage chairman Ferdinand Gaite, Anakbayan chairman Vencer Crisostomo, Alliance of Health Workers president Jossel I. Ebesate, Kadamay chairman Gloria Arellano, businessman Herman Tiu Laurel, Myrleon Peralta, SSS union president Amorsolo Competente, commuter advocate Elvira Medina, commuters Maria Donna Grey Miranda and Angelo Villanueva Suarez of TREN, labor leaders Jose Sonny Matula of Federation of Free Workers and David Diwa of National Labor Union, journalist James Bernard Relativo of TREN, Giovanni Tapang of Agham and United Filipino Consumers and Commuters leader Rodolfo Javellana.
Malacañang said the government can defend the legality of the fare increases.
In a news conference, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also on Tuesday said they are ready to answer the petitions filed by the various groups.