A senior lawmaker on Wednesday asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to look for fresh funding to sustain the “Libreng Sakay” program.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said this is the very least that the Marcos Jr. administration can do for poor and low-income commuters in the National Capital region amid global oil shock that has jacked up headline inflation and prompted the government to increase public transport fares.
Villafuerte said the continuation of Libreng Sakay in Metro Manila would help ease the economic woes of commuters saddled with ever-rising fuel prices and the newly approved fare hike.
Villafuerte issued this statement after Transportation Secretary-designate Jaime Bautista revealed that the DOTr would seek an additional outlay of P1.4 billion as the agency has no available funds in its 2022 budget to continue with Libreng Sakay till end-December.
“Carrying on with Libreng Sakay should top the concerns of both the DOTr and DBM, considering that one of the very first official acts of Mr. Marcos on his first full day as President last July 1 was for the DOTr to carry on with this program for the benefit of Metro Manila commuters,” Villafuerte said.
“Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista should exert his very best effort in making sure Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman is able to source or realign at least P1.4 billion in public funds to bankroll Libreng Sakay till the year end, in keeping with President Marcos’s July 1 directive,” Villafuerte said.
President Marcos approved last July 1 the recommendation of Bautista to extend the free rides program for buses plying the Edsa Carousel Busway until end-December along with the free rides in the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT 3), Light Rail Transit 2 (LRT 2) and Philippine National Railways (PNR) for students, at least for the first quarter of school year 2022-2023 from August 22 to November 4.
Image credits: Facebook.com/lrayvillafuerteofficial