CEBU CITY, Philippines - Escalating fuel prices forced at least 30 shipping firms based in Cebu to adjust their fares at least two times since April.
According to Maritime Industry Authority in Central Visayas (Marina-7) records, from June to July this year, at least 30 shipping companies filed notices for fare adjustments.
They sought a fare increase from 5 percent to 84 percent.
?The usual cause of the fare adjustment is the high cost of fuel," said Ranier Dueñas, supervising maritime industry development specialist of Marina-7.
Robles Shipping Lines, which services the ports of Cebu City, Hilongos and Baybay in Leyte; Catbalogan in Samar and Nasipit in Agusan del Norte, raised fare three times since April.
The first increase was implemented on April 18, the second on June 18 and the latest on July 15.
Marina-7 Regional Director Glenn Cabañez said Tuesday that implementing a fare increase several times is allowed unless it's proven that a firm has excessively increased rates.
"That's all legal based on Republic Act (RA) 9295 wherein the rates in both freight and passage have been deregulated by that law," he said.
The shipping companies, however, must file with Marina the notice for rate adjustment and publish the new rates in a newspaper of regional or national circulation.
But the government can intervene.
"If government, through Marina, finds out that their rates are already unconscionably high, then Marina can intervene, if the services that are being rendered by a shipping company are not commensurate with the rates that the are charged. For example, if the rates collected for the economy section are equivalent to the first class accommodation in other shipping companies," he said.
Other shipping firms that increased their fares are the Ocean Fast Ferries Corp., the Lite Shipping Co., Island Shipping Corp., Jadestar Shipping Lines Inc., VG shipping, Asian Marine Transport Corp., Sunline Shipping Corp., Kinswell Shipping Lines Inc., J & N shipping Lines, The Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Trans Asia Shipping Lines and FJP Shipping Lines.
Most of these shipping companies increased their fares twice since May ranging from 5 percent to 36 percent.
The FJP Shipping Lines increased their fare by 84 percent on July 17. The company's 2nd class accommodation from Tagbilaran to Larena in Bohol was raised from P280 to P515.