Solon dares LRTA execs to bare their perks

January 20, 2011 11:51 am 

MANILA, Jan. 19 — A lawmaker on Wednesday dared the directors and officers of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) to disclose the total annual compensation and benefits they have been individually and collectively receiving, in light of their decision to increase fares by up to 100 percent.

"It is only fair for the public to get a sense of the emoluments that LRTA board members and officials have been paying themselves, before they actually raise light rail fares," said House Deputy Majority Leader and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo.

"Assuming the Cabinet members on the LRTA board are not taking any extra perks, since they are already getting paid as department heads, then this information should also be conveyed to the public," he said.

Romulo said the public would like to find out "if there is any burden-sharing here, or if the LRTA has simply decided to pass on to taxpayers and commuters the full weight of subsidizing our light rail operations."

"Has the LRTA enlarged, reduced or kept standstill the rewards for its directors and officers? This is of public interest in view of the impending fare increases," he pointed out.

The LRTA's nine-member governing board includes five ex-officio Cabinet members — the heads of the Department of Transportation and Communications, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and the National Economic Development Authority.

The four other board members are the chairmen of the Metro Manila Development Authority and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, the LRTA administrator, and one private sector representative.

Romulo warned that the hefty fare increases could backfire and drive commuters to find other ways of going around.

"There is definite risk many passengers will stop taking the trains. Commuters are mostly minimum wage earners or salaried employees with fixed incomes. They may not be able to cope with the additional cost, especially since they also have to endure other consumer price increases," he said.

Should rider traffic plunge, then the purpose of the fare increments — to raise revenues and reduce government subsidy — would be defeated, the Pasig City solon said.

"In effect, the LRTA will have achieved nothing, except to make life difficult for the ordinary commuter, who will now have to either pay up to 100 percent more, or take another way to work or school that is slow and tiring," he added.

The LRTA has approved new fares for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems effective March 1.

Commuters on the 17-kilometer EDSA railway will pay a minimum of P15 from the current P10, and P30 from the current P15 for the end-to-end trip.

The same new fare matrix will also be applied to the 15-kilometer LRT Line 1 from Baclaran in Pasay City to Roosevelt Avenue in Caloocan City and the 13.8-kilometer LRT Line 2 from Marcos Highway in Santolan, Pasig City to Recto Avenue in Manila. (PNA)

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