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Libreng Sakay will go on with a budget of P1.3 billion: DBM

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After being stopped in December of last year because of money problems, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) promised on Thursday that free rides on the Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) Busway system will continue now that the national budget for this year of PHP5.268 trillion has been passed.

In a press release, DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said that PHP1.285 billion has been given to the government’s Service Contracting program this year under Republic Act 11936, or the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 General Appropriations Act. This money comes from the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) budget.

“The Service Contracting Program has a place in our GAA for FY 2023. Naglaan po ang pamahalaan ng PHP1.285 billion para maipagpatuloy ang programang ito ngayong taon (The Service Contracting Program now has funding in our FY 2023 GAA. This year, PHP1.285 billion has been set aside by the government to keep this program going,” Pangandaman said.

The Service Contracting program, which allows the “Libreng Sakay” to continue, gives free bus rides to the public, including people who take buses along EDSA.

Pangandaman also said that free rides are important to Filipino commuters.

“We know how hard it is for people to get to work. So, President Bongbong Marcos told us to do what we could to help them out and do the best we could. She said, “The Service Contracting Program, which gives money to Libreng Sakay, is a big help.”

“Malaking tulong po ang tipid-pasahe sa araw-araw na pamumuhay ng mga kababayan natin (Saving on transport fares is a big help in the daily life of our countrymen). “They can use the money they save every day to pay for things that are just as important or more important, like food, electricity, or school fees,” she said.

Teofilo Guadiz III, who is in charge of the LTFRB, said earlier that the Libreng Sakay program will go on once they get the money from the DBM.

The Libreng Sakay was started when President Rodrigo R. Duterte was in office. It is a program run by the DOTr and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to help commuters in a time when prices for goods and services are going up.

As of December 27 of last year, 164,966,373 people had used the Libreng Sakay program along EDSA. This number was recorded by the LTFRB.

The program also helps onboarded public utility buses (PUBs) on the EDSA Busway Route in Metro Manila because it gives money to transportation service providers based on how well they do their jobs.

Last year, the free bus ride program was supposed to end on July 31, but on his first day in office, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. announced that it would be extended until December 2022.

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