The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has issued a stern warning on public-utility vehicles (PUVs) that overcharge passengers and commuters for the increase in oil prices due to recently passed tax amendments.
LTFRB Spokesman Aileen Lizada said she has received reports that some PUV operators have been hiking fares without authority.
“It has come to our attention that some public utility vehicles are increasing their fare rates on their own without any authority from the board. Let this be a warning to all PUV operators: You have to go through a petition for fare hike before any increase may be granted,” she said in a text message.
A photo bearing a signage from a UV Express from Bulacan circulated on social-media sites on Monday. The said photo showed an announcement of a UV Express unit telling its passengers that it has increased its fare by P5 due to the tax amendments that were passed recently.
“This increase is to compensate for the increase in prices of fuel, basic commodity and lease,” the signage said, noting that the increase will start to take effect on January 15.
But, according to Lizada, such an increase is not sanctioned by the LTFRB.
“For unauthorized fare hikes, the penalties under Joint Administrative Order 2014-01 are as follows: first offense, P5,000 fine; second offense, P10,000 plus impounding of unit for 30 days; and third and subsequent offenses, P15,000 plus cancellation of certification of public conveyance where unit is authorized,” she said, referring to certificates of public conveyance.
Fuel prices are expected to spike after gas companies’ current inventories deplete. Crude is included in the list of items that are up for higher taxation under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, or Republic Act 10963.
Some 255 smoke belchers, dilapidated vehicles and PUV drivers not wearing uniform were apprehended as the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) started on Monday the “Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok” campaign, which aims to flag down road-unworthy public transport in compliance with the PUV Modernization Program.
In a news statement, I-ACT said that, as of 2:05 p.m. on Monday (January 8), a total of 123 smoke belchers, 130 vehicles with defective parts and accessories and two drivers not wearing proper uniform were apprehended.
The I-ACT is composed of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Land Transportation Office, Highway Patrol Group, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, LTFRB and various traffic-enforcement units of Metro Manila local government units.
“This is basically a warning shot. If, after a day, we catch them again, then we shall already issue summons to them, leading possibly to suspension if not cancellation of their licenses, and franchises if their explanations would be unsatisfactory,” I-ACT communications head Elmer Argano said in a text message to reporters.
The council said it would strictly enforce on-road inspection of public- transport vehicles. “All public transport that we see not road worthy will be stopped and will be issued a subpoena for them to undergo the Motor Vehicle Inspection System,” DOTr Undersecretary for Roads and Infrastructure Tim Orbos said.
Pilot areas for the campaign include Edsa, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon Avenue and Marcos Highway.
Failure to pass the roadworthiness test which consists of the following items namely body (appearance), engine, lights, brakes, tires, horn, battery and smoke will result in the suspension of the franchises of PUVs.