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The NorMin transportation company aspires to fill all available seats.

CITY OF CAGAYAN DE ORO – The Northern Mindanao chapter of the National Confederation of Transport Workers’ Union (NCTU-10) prefers to restore full seating capacity in public utility vehicles (PUVs) rather than raise fares owing to rising oil prices.

NCTU-10 coordinator Joel Gabatan stated in a phone interview on Monday that they will propose an increase in passenger capacity.

“If the fare increases, commuters will be burdened much more, which we understand because we commute as well. We don’t want to demand a fare hike right now because people are still suffering from the pandemic’s effects “he stated

Domestic oil products have seen a price increase since February 15, according to the oil industry. According to the Department of Energy, gasoline has increased by PHP1.20 per liter, diesel has grown by PHP1.05 per liter, and kerosene has increased by PHP0.65 per liter.

Gabatan stated that they will submit the request to the central office of the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Due to a decrease in Covid-19 instances this year, LTFRB-10 Director Aminoden Guro said their central office and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) sought 100 percent capacity.

However, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has only granted 70 percent capacity (IATF-EID).

“We have already sought the sitting capacity, particularly from our DOTr. The IATF, not our office, was the one who refused to allow 100 percent (sitting capacity) “Guro remarked.

Gabatan, on the other hand, would personally seek the assistance of LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III.

“He (Delgra) may come here because he is meeting with all of the cooperatives. We will, however, submit an official letter if the chairman instructs us to do so “Gabatan remarked.

Delgra may hold a transportation forum in the city if there is a time following an event on February 23 in Marawi City, according to Guro.

Apart from increasing passenger capacity in Covid-19, the NCTU-10 also seeks to increase PUV driver support through the Pantawid Pasada Program (PPP) and the elimination of the excise tax increment.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro’s 2nd District introduced a bill last year to postpone the collection of the rise in excise taxes on gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum products for four years, from 2022 to 2025.

On February 18, the LTFRB announced that the budget for the Fuel Subsidy Program in 2022 has been authorized and that the office has begun a series of meetings to ensure the program’s successful execution.

In an interview, Bianca Danika Pontillo, a commuter who works for a private company here, said that raising fares would be inappropriate because people are still trying to survive the pandemic.

She believes that returning to 100 percent passenger capacity will benefit the drivers, but that stringent health regulation must be followed.

“I’m fine with it since, rather than raising fares, it will benefit our drivers. However, in order to avoid viral transmission, both the drivers and the passengers must closely adhere to the health rules “Pontillo said.

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