Toll Regulatory Board won't suspend toll hike
- Perseus Echeminada () - January 3, 2009 - 12:00am

The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) would not suspend the provisional toll hike of 18-25 percent that took effect along the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (Coastal Road) and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) on Jan. 1 in the absence of any petition for review.

“If nobody files a petition for review, the toll hike will become permanent after 90 days” said TRB spokesman Julius Corpus.

He admitted that the TRB did not conduct any public hearings when it granted the provisional toll increase and that it would only do so if any group of motorists or commuters would file a petition for review before the regulatory body.

Corpus cited Letter of Instruction 133-A and contracts with the toll operators, which he said allows the TRB to grant a provisional toll increase before conducting any public hearings.

“The TRB is just following the law; there is nothing irregular,” he said.

The National Council for Commuters’ Protection (NCCP), however, argued that the process being adopted by the TRB violates due process, a constitutional right of commuters to air their side before a decision compelling them to pay higher toll on expressways is made.

“It (is like) putting the cart before the horse. You cannot act on a petition without any public hearing, without consulting the riding public. It’s unconstitutional,” said lawyer Vicente Millora, NCCP chairman.

He said the public must be duly notified and has the right to oppose or approve any petition that would directly affect them, particularly amid the present economic crunch.

“It’s arbitrary (and) may be a ground for graft charges against TRB officials,” he said.

Millora earlier said they would question the toll hike and seek legal remedies to stop it.

Corpus, however, said any legal action is premature, as the toll hike is still provisional and that the NCCP can seek a review of the TRB decision within 90 days from the day of publication of the toll adjustments, after which public hearings would be called.

He said the TRB has deliberated and decided on at least 15 petitions for review of toll increases in the past.

“Of the total number, there were no reversals, as the increases were done in accordance with existing regulations,” he said.

COASTAL ROAD JAN JULIUS CORPUS LETTER OF INSTRUCTION MANILA-CAVITE TOLL EXPRESSWAY NATIONAL COUNCIL SOUTHERN TAGALOG ARTERIAL ROAD TOLL TOLL REGULATORY BOARD TRB VICENTE MILLORA
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