Oliver Bugarin 7 0 0 4 min to read

Solon requests that government organizations fund “Libreng Sakay” with savings.

The Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) “Libreng Sakay (free ride)” initiative was not funded in the 2023 planned national budget, prompting a lawmaker to encourage national government entities to save their money to support it.

For the DOTr to continue its contracting service program, which aims to give commuters free rides while making money for public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and drivers, Quezon City Rep. Ralph Tulfo suggested that the agencies “make a little sacrifice” by giving up their 2022 savings to the general fund of the National Treasury.

Tulfo stated that commuters would be significantly impacted by the recent decision of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) over the proposed fare rises for public utility jeepneys, buses, taxis, and ride-hailing applications to go into effect next month.

“In just one decision by the LTFRB, the daily budget of Filipino families would suffer enormous losses despite the increase in the minimum wage, and the effects of inflation would further exacerbate this,” Tulfo said.

According to him, only students are eligible for the Light Rail Transit Line 2’s (LRT-2) “Libreng Sakay (free rides)” program, and the Edsa Bus Carousel has limited hours of operation.

The free ride program offered “transport relief” during the pandemic, according to DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista, but given the limitations of the national budget, its long-term viability cannot be contested.

We acknowledge that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has the authority to allocate funds for “Libreng Sakay” by the government’s fiscal priorities and with the appropriate congressional permission, according to Bautista.

The director of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) stated that he is “more than eager” to work with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to extend the free ride initiative that was started on August 3 with five buses to assist commuters in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

Meanwhile, Mark Steven Pastor, the DOTr’s Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure, claimed that the DBM rejected the DOTr’s proposal for a PHP778 million budget for the modernization of public utility vehicles in 2023, which included money for the free-riding program.

On the other hand, the OVP has earmarked PHP32.5 million for its free ride program.

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