MANILA, Philippines - Despite the almost weekly price hikes by oil companies, majority of the shipping and ferry operators in the country have decided not to increase their fares as thousands of passengers continue to pour in various ports as part of the Holy Week exodus.
According to Christopher Pastrana of the Philippine RoRo Operators Association, around 80 percent of their operators have reached a decision that instead of increasing their regular fares, they just decided to temporarily remove their promos and discount to cope with the rising oil prices.
"Actually, majority of them decided to only slash the discounts on fares and used their pre-2008 matrix since oil prices are up 10 percent higher since January. Kahit paano ay makabawi sila sa mga expenses nila but naintindihan din nila ang gastos ng ating mga mananakay kaya (They can still recoup their expenses, but they understand the expenditures of their passengers that's why) around 80 percent of them still decided not increase their fares," Pastrana said.
Based on the present calculations of the RoRo operators, around 50-70 percent of their earnings will go to fuel consumption and the rest will be divided among the operators and their employees.
"We hope that the riding public will understand the decision of majority of the operators to slash discounts. When oil prices once again go down, I think most of them will revive the slash promos and discounts of their tickets," Pastrana said.
He said ticket prices in major routes in Luzon remain the same but are higher by 5 percent in Visayas and Mindanao routes since fuel prices are much higher in those areas compared to Luzon.
"We should consider that most areas particularly in Visayas and Mindanao are far from the oil depot and refineries, kaya medyo mas mahal na konti dahil sa (that's why it's higher because of the) shipping fees," Pastrana added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported that boat operators in Puerto Galera increased their fares also by around 5 percent, citing the same reason - the ballooning price of diesel fuel.
The PCG reported that the fare for a one-way boat ride from Batangas Port to Puerto Galera is now P275 from the previous P225.00.
In a related development, the PCG warned and discouraged ship passengers yesterday from patronizing "fly-by-night or colorum" inter-island shipping vessels this holiday season.
Coast Guard Public Affairs chief Lieutenant Commander Algier Ricafrente advised the public -- especially local and foreign tourists who are planning to spend their Holy Week and summer vacations in the provinces and major beach resorts across the archipelago -- to be mindful of the risks involved in getting aboard colorum shipping vessels, especially now when passengers are pouring in the different ports and ferry terminals.
"We are monitoring the situation," Ricafrente said.