UPDATED: Philippine News Roundup −19 May 2008

Update:Fare Hike Deferred. Well, at least they are able to stop unlicensed buses from plying Metro Manila.

Update: Philippine government to bid out 141 thousand tons of rice.

Here is today’s summary of the major news reports in the Philippines.

Buses and jeepneys in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog will be increasing their minimum rates starting May, 21, 2008 at exactly 12:01. The new rates approved by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are P7.50 to P8 for the first four kilometers for jeepneys. P8 to P9 for ordinary buses and P10 to P11.50 air-conditioned buses. In regard to provincial routes, ordinary buses may increase their fare from P8.50 to P9 for the first five kilometers and charge P1.40 for every succeeding kilometer. The above rates are yet to be finalized as transport groups are petitioning for higher rates. Taxi drivers in Metro Manila also have a petition for a P10 increase in the flag down rates.

As a further measure to temper the rising prices of basic commodities, the government is looking at fuel subsidies for transport groups. The House of Representatives is also considering the suspension of E-VAT collections on electricity to households consuming less than P5,000/month.

On to the President’s official family, here are the new cabinet appointees. Presidential adviser to the peace process Jesus Dureza has been named to replace Ignacio Bunye for the position of Press Secretary. His current post will be assumed by the newly retired Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye was earlier appointed to the Philippine Monetary Board.

For the weather, PagAsa estimates generally improved conditions as tropical storm COSME has left the Philippine area of responsibility. Rains, gusty winds and thunderstorms are still expected all over the country for the entire week as the rainy season has officially started.

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