Youth group hold protest at train station vs privatization

by Dean Lacandazo

Members of Anakbayan unfurl a streamer protesting the loming privatization of MRT and LRT | Photo Courtesy: Anakbayan Metro Manila
Members of Anakbayan unfurl a streamer protesting the loming privatization of MRT and LRT | Photo Courtesy: Anakbayan Metro Manila

Members of militant youth organization Anakbayan Metro Manila held a protest at the North Avenue Terminal Station of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) to oppose the train system’s impending privatization amid its worsening state.

In a statement, Christian Lloyd Magsoy of Anakbayan Metro Manila said that, “we don’t oppose the extension and development of the train, we are against the fact that the public service is being transformed into a money making scheme or the Public Private Partnership. The goal becomes profit and not quality service to the people.”

Anakbayan members successfully unfurled a giant streamer on the connecting bridge of the station which states: “May pondo sa korapsyon wala sa pampublikong transportasyon kaya #MRTBULOK” (There are funds for corruption, but none for public transportation thus the MRT is rotten). The protesters held a quick program as passengers on queue were watching the protest action, the security guards also looked on. The protesters then left the premises after the program with their streamer.

Protesters held a quick program to raise awareness on the impending privatization of the MRT and LRT Systems. Photo Courtesy: Anakbayan Metro Manila

The protesters are attempting to bring into the attention of the people the corruption of public coffers by the Aquino administration through the highly controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) amid the worsening state of the vital train systems in the metropolis. Recently a spate of accidents and snags occurred where the worst by far is when the train ran out of its track, hitting barriers and threw itself a few meters from its supposed stopover.

The bundled MRT-LRT systems privatization contract is slated for bidding on October 2 through the Aquino administration’s flagship economic program Public Private Partnership or PPP which is largely based on US’ and UK’s privatization scheme where most of the vital public utilities and services where sold to private corporations supposedly to improve the quality of service while raking in profits. But the Thatcher-lead project proved to be a failure when supposed public fury erupted as a shift of allocation policy occurred from democratic to market-based principles.

“We believe that privatization of different public services particularly the public transportation is caused by the systematic corruption under the Aquino regime. A year after the DAP expose until now no one is clear accountable on these issues,” said Magsoy.

The government is currently spending more than P7 billion in subsidizing the operations of both MRT and LRT for the private contractors that built it. In the contract between the government and the private conglomerates that built and is partly managing the train system, the government is obliged to provide its private counterpart guaranteed profits and debt payments at all costs to which some groups protest.

Riles Network, an alliance for the concern of the train commuters asserts that 15 percent of the government subsidy for MRT and LRT goes to the guaranteed Return of Investment for private invetors and lending institutions. Exact amount for the subsidies in keeping the fare within reach for the riders is yet to be disclosed by the DOTC.


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