Akbayan Youth conducts Star Wars-inspired protest vs. MRT-LRT fare hike


Youth activists donned in Darth Vader and Stormtrooper masks trooped today to the GMA-Kamuning station of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) to press their demand for the government to stop the implementation of the fare hike adjustment.

The creative action, organized by Akbayan Youth, is reportedly part of their #Rollbackthursday campaign against the MRT-LRT fare hike. The group carried the messages “Commuters Strike Back” and “Return the Old Rates”, inspired by the “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”, of the epic Star Wars movie franchise.

“While in the Star Wars film series, the said characters belong to the dark side, today we appropriate the images and subvert popular media culture to bring forward the message of the youth to the government and sustain the people’s opposition against the fare increase adjustment. Through such creative and innovative actions, we hope the government will feel that the force is strong against the MRT-LRT fare hike,” said Akbayan Youth Chairperson Rafaela “Paeng” David.
 Aquino asked to be a Jedi Knight

The youth group conducted the creative protest, two days after sending a letter-petition to the Office of the President urging President Aquino to revoke Department Order 2014-14 issued by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and thus undo the implementation of the MRT-LRT fare hike to provide immediate relief to the youth and the riding public affected by the fare increase adjustment.

“We believe that the President Aquino can be like a Jedi Knight if he heeds our earlier call and revoke the Department Order 2014-14. As chief of the executive branch, he has the power to withdraw the DOTC implementation of the fare adjustments and provide immediate relief to the riding public, especially the young people, who do not have the capacity to carry the additional burden imposed by the hike,” reiterated David.

“Refrain from giving in to the dark side”

The youth groups also expressed their hopes that the government will not give in to the “dark side” of scandalous profiteering by depriving the people of essential public services such as an efficient public transit system.

“The government must review its transportation policy towards a transport system that is not only efficient, but also accessible for ordinary commuters, especially the poor and the marginalized. If the government continues to support a transport policy that favors the rich over the poor, we fear the government will be like Darth Vader who abandons his mission to serve the citizens, gives in to the Dark side of the Force and fights for the evil Galactic Empire,” said David.

On Monday, multisectoral leaders filed a letter-petition before the Office of the President to review and suspend the fare hike adjustment.

“Power of control”

Led by Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez, they asked President Aquino to exercise his “power of control” over executive departments such as the DOTC and suspend the implementation of fare hike adjustment.

The Akbayan lawmakers said Aquino is well within his mandate if he decides to put on hold the fare hike adjustment pending a comprehensive review of the scheme and its impact on the riding public. ###