By Lyssa Raquinel and Paula Mae Villarosa
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Activist leaders who aired their disappointment yesterday over the “failure” of Cong. Greg Gasataya to show up met with and thanked him today after discussing problems with the lone district solon who assured them he would act on their concerns as soon as he receives a formal communication stipulating their issues.
Among the concerns presented to Gasataya by leaders of the Bacolod-Negros Transport Coalition composed of drivers and operators was their opposition to the jeepney modernization program of the Duterte government.
Diego Malacad of activist federation Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON)-Negros and coalition consultant Pete Pico and other operators took turns presenting their complaints to Gasataya.
They said operators who have been applying for their franchise renewals before the regional office of the Land Trasportation Franchising and Regulatory Board have been told their franchises will not be renewed and they should join a transport corporation or cooperative, instead.
“This is unfair,” Pico said over what the operators called as “discrimination.”
The coalition also presented their demand for government to lower taxes on petroleum products amid the continuing fuel price hikes since last year triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Malacad said reducing excise and value added taxes will lower the price of diesel, which feeds most public jeepneys here, from more than P80 per liter to only around P60.
Malacad had said yesterday they are not seeking financial assistance from Gasataya but during the meeting today, he said they will welcome from him.
Gasataya called the complaints “valid” as he gave the assurance that he will bring the major concern of operators to LTFRB officials whom he might request to meet with them.
As to the lowering of taxes and the operator’s proposed fair hike of an additional one peso for the succeeding kilometers after the first four, he said he will present it to the House of Representatives as soon as the 19th Congress opens.