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Fare hikes show Aquino biased towards foreign, big businesses – Anakbayan

January 16, 2011

A group of young workers, professionals, and students have called President Noynoy Aquino a ‘pimp for foreign and big businesses’ after a spate of transport-related hikes such as those in the MRT and LRT fares, as well as proposed hikes in the minimum fares of jeeps.

Anakbayan spokesperson Vencer Crisostomo cited reports which said foreign investors ‘welcomed’ the hikes as a sign of the administration’s ‘political will’ in carrying out ‘unpopular measures’.

“The fare hikes are primarily Noynoy’s way of reassuring the big capitalists that he will not intervene with their profiteering, even at the expense of the ordinary Filipino” said the youth leader.

When construction on the MRT first began in the 90s, the government guaranteed a 15% annual return of investment to the consortium that would eventually build the railway, including Japanese and Czech banks as well as the local Ayala Corporation.

Crisostomo however asserted that the hikes are unnecessary, arguing that mass transport systems provide ‘social benefits’ that “cannot be measured by such a shallow measure as a profit sheet”.

Another example of ‘uncontrolled capitalist greed’ contributing to the series of transportation fare hikes, according to Anakbayan, is the Oil Deregulation Law.

The group cited a report by umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) which showed that local oil firms’ petroleum products were overpriced by P6.72 per liter by the end of 2010. Chevron meanwhile hiked the price of its gasoline by P0.50/liter, and diesel by P0.25/liter. Several jeepney drivers and operators groups have proposed an increase in their minimum fare of P0.50-P1.00.

When the Oil Deregulation Law was passed more than a decade ago, proponents claimed that the ensuing ‘competition’ between oil companies would result in prices being pushed down. However, the so-called ‘Big 3’ has been repeatedly accused of collaborating with each other to keep their products overpriced.

“The Oil Deregulation Law’s decade-long experience has long disproved the dogma of ‘privatization, deregulation, and liberalization’ as the keys to economic development. The only thing that experiences ‘development’ is the balance sheet of gigantic foreign and local businesses. Yet here comes Aquino insisting on the ‘PPP’ (Public-Private Partnership) which is basically a rehash of the same dogma” said Crisostomo.

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