Senate fooled by DOTC on budget request

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DOTC-logoBy Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region (BicolToday.com) – The Senate was fooled by budget wizards from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) during the budget hearing several months ago.

This is how Senator Chiz Escudero wrapped up his reaction after learning that DOTC has implemented fare increases in the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT), online news BicolToday.com learned yesterday.

According to Escudero, the Senate finance committee then gave so much funding to DOTC during the budget hearing.

“The Senate would have not approved the 2015 budget request by DOTC had it known that it would implement fare increases in LRT and MRT”, Escudero said.

“They [DOTC] asked for budget allocation from Congress and said that was what they needed. We gave it to them already, but they did not even inform us that there will be an increase,” Escudero said. “Had we known that there will be a fare hike, we could have given them a smaller amount from the 2015 budget.”

The new LRT-MRT fare hike increased to P11 from P10 the base fare and P1 more per additional kilometer effective January 4.

Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, said the new rates would burden the public without any improvement in the service of the rail transit system.

“The reason why this fare increase is such a burden is because the service is not improving. We already allocated money for the MRT rehabilitation and improvement for 2015. There is enough funding. We don’t need the money from the fare hike in order to improve MRT3,” Escudero pointed out.

“We are not in favor of this LRT-MRT fare hike. They never mentioned this, not during the Senate hearings with the department, not even during the budget deliberations.” Escudero said.

According to Escudero, before a fare hike can be implemented, there must be a public hearing. The DoTC, however, said there was a public hearing that happened in 2011.

“If that is their basis for the hike this 2015, I think that is not fair. They will implement the fare hike four years after the public hearing and they will tell us that that is the public hearing as required by law? I certainly disagree with that logic,” said Escudero.

During the Senate budget deliberations for the 2015 budget, Escudero slashed P54 billion from the Unprogrammed Fund for the supposed buyout of the MRT 3 and allocated the funding for other more essential services such as the much needed infrastructure to ease the traffic congestion and improve disaster preparedness programs. [BicolToday.com]

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