Friday, August 14, 2009

Lacking citizen protection, yet hiking govt fees

Below is one ugly example of how the State and its lower branches, the local government units, are neglecting or abdicating their important function of protecting the citizens' right to life and right to private property. And yet the same government units are hiking the fees for enterprises who are suffering from losses due to neglect of protection of their customers.

Bombings of some civilian targets like buses in the southern part of the country are somehow scattered and isolated. But compared to the overall peace and order situation in the entire country, the figures become high over at the south.

Bombings and killings are clear threats to the citizens' right to life. The State should flex its muscles and resources to stop such killings and show that it can protect innocent civilians. When the bombings and fighting continue, then the State's armed forces -- the military and the police -- are not doing their job well. If they say they lack enough resources, then the State should rechannel its resources like abolishing certain agencies and move the budget to the armed forces, just to stop all those bombers, arsonists and killers.

Now there is another ugly twist. The local governments there are hiking certain fees that further affect the financial condition of the bus companies. For accountability purposes, the local government should have retained if not reduced the fees, allow the bus companies to keep more of their earnings, so they may have to hire more private security guards if necessary, to protec their passengers and the buses in the terminals.

below is the news report.

Southern Mindanao bus firms reeling from extortion, fees

DAVAO CITY — Bus companies in Southern Mindanao are losing revenue due to security threats from extortion groups that have shooed away customer and rising local government fees.

Maryland F. Sy, president of the Southern Mindanao Bus Operators Association that operates 1,200 bus units, said business has slowed down both in the lean and peak seasons.

"The bombings scared off [commuters] from traveling," she said.

Buses in Southern Mindanao, including the Cotabato provinces, have become targets of bombing attributed by authorities to have been perpetuated by the Al Khobar gang, supposedly a breakaway group of Moro separatist rebels and the New People’s Army. The bandits usually torch vehicles after ordering all passengers to disembark.

Based on the industry survey, buses plying the Davao City route have lost about over half in terms of passenger load over the past months. "Before, in a 60-seater bus we have around 45-50 per trip but now we only get 30 passengers," Ms. Sy said.

Although figures were not provided, she noted that the problem has resulted in some bus companies retrenching workers and offering early retirement benefits.

Via H. Lumogda, secretary of the bus association, said operators also have to deal with rising terminal fees — some of which have doubled or tripled — imposed by local government units as well as the annual fee for each franchise at P1,000. — Joel B. Escovilla

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