THE primary driving force behind huge increases in fares in the three train systems in Metro Manila—Light Rail Transit 1, LRT 2 and Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3)—is to amass funds for the campaign of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) in the 2016 elections, according to a youth group.
“Experts and critics alike have both established that the proceeds of the (MRT 3, LRT 1 and LRT 2) fare hikes will not go to facility improvement. Instead, parts of the proceeds will go to guaranteed profits of private firms. But we also fear that funds will also be diverted to the LP’s election war chest,” Vencer Crisostomo, the Akbayan group’s chairman, said on Monday.”
Crisostomo noted that “with announcement of the fare increases coming right after the government released its projected revenues for 2015, the Aquino administration can claim at some point this year that actual revenues have actually exceeded targets, thus allowing it to use savings in a new DAP-like mechanism.”
He was referring to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The youth leader said the influx of train revenues might be tapped for unprogrammed government projects designed to earn “kickbacks” for the LP, which is headed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“In this case, it will be a seamless operation, with Transportation and Communications Secretary (Joseph) Abaya being the party president and President Aquino providing cover for illicit activities,” Crisostomo added.
“We remember with rage how some P4.5 billion allotted for the procurement of additional trains for MRT 3 have been tapped for the DAP before. Aquino, Abaya and Abad can easily do that again with the fare hikes, given that this government has already exhibited its talent for swindling public funds,” he said.
Abad is Florencio Abad, secretary of the Department of Budget and Management and he is believed to be the architect of the DAP.