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Labor group slams LRT, MRT fare hike

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed the impending hike in the fares of Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT), pointing out the government subsidy for the travel budget of public officials is also increasing.

PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza said the travel budget of public officials has increased by at least P1.5 billion yearly since 2011.

“Clearly, there is a tale of inequality in this issue. First, the fare hike as admitted by Secretary Abaya himself is meant not for service upgrade but mainly for debt payments to an onerous contract with a private concessionaire,” Fortaleza said, referring to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

He said the budget cut is imposed on poor commuters while travel budget for public officials keeps increasing.

Fortaleza added Malacañang has “uncaringly decided to remove the P7-billion to P10-billion subsidy to millions of train riders, purportedly to re-channel the freed budget to other social services.”

But at the same time, Malacañang had “resourcefully kept” on increasing the travel budget of public officials by at least P1.5 billion every year.

Fortaleza said that based on the Summary of Obligations of the National Government for 2013-2014 posted at the Department of Budget and Management website, travel expenses in 2011 amounted to P7.8 billion, P9.3 billion in 2012 and P11.8 billion in 2013.

Fortaleza pointed out that under the General Appropriations Act, “Traveling Expenses is defined as payment of claims for reimbursement of traveling and related expenses incurred in the course of official travel by officials and employees of the government.”

BILLION

BUDGET

DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT

FORTALEZA

GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT

LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT

MALACA

METRO RAIL TRANSIT

SECRETARY ABAYA

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