By Hannah Torregoza
The bill institutionalizing transportation discounts for students is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
This was after the Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference report, harmonizing the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1597 and House Bill 8885, or the “Student Fare Discount Act” before Congress adjourned last week.
The measure institutionalizes the grant of 20 percent fare discounts to students on all land, air and water transportation, even during weekends and holidays.
Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, principal author of the measure, said it will strengthen the mandate for student discounts on transport fares.
SBN 1597, under Committee Report No. 166, is in substitution of Senate bill nos. 662, 945 and 1226 authored by Aquino, Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who sponsored the measure, and Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, respectively.
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero steered the passage of the measure as chairman of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture.
Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas authored the counterpart measure at the House of Representatives.
Presently, the student discount privilege is being enforced by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) through a memorandum circular it issued in October 2017 stating that students can avail of the 20-percent discount from Monday to Sunday, including summer breaks, legal and special holidays.
Once enacted into law, all Filipino students – from elementary to college, as well as those enrolled in technical-vocational schools – would be entitled to a 20 percent discount in buses, jeepneys, taxis, tricycle, transport network vehicle services (TNVS), MRT, LRT, as well as airline and passenger ships even during holidays.
Specifically excluded under the measure are those enrolled in dancing and driving schools, short-term courses of seminar type, and post-graduate studies—those taking up medicine, law, masteral, doctoral degrees and the like.
Under the measure, students who will travel abroad, either by plane or passenger ship, for education, training and competition shall be exempt from the payment of travel tax “upon proper showing of proof or documentation of intended purpose.”
Students may also file their complaints with the LTFRB for land transportation utilities; Maritime Industry Authority (for sea/water transportation utilities); and Civil Aeronautics Board (for air transportation utilities) if they were refused to be given a fare discount.
Under the proposed law, failure to provide the fare discount would be considered a franchise violation that carries the following penalties: a fine of P5,000 for the first offense, P10,000 and their vehicles impounded for one month for the second offense, and P15,000 and cancellation of franchise or Certificate of Public Convenience for the third offense.
Water transportation utilities that would violate the law will face a fine ranging from P10,000 to P50,000 and warning for the first offense; P20,000 to P60,000 and suspension of operation of the ship for at least 30 days for the second offense; and P30,000 to P70,000 and suspension of operation of the ship for the third offense.
On the other hand, air transportation utilities that would violate the law would be facing a fine of P50,000 to P100,000 for the first offense; P100,000 to P150,000 and a warning for the second offense; and P150,000 to P200,000 and other sanctions as may be determined by the CAB for the third and subsequent offenses.