A legislator from Southern Tagalog on Monday said he would file a bill mandating an additional budget to fund the Libreng Sakay program not only on the Edsa Carousel Route that has been extended by President Marcos, but on all routes and train services up to the end of the year.
“I thank President Marcos and Transportation Secretary Jimmy Bautista for extending the Libreng Sakay on the EDSA Carousel bus service for all passengers and the free rail rides for students,” Rep. Reynan Arrogancia of Quezon said.
He said the supplemental bill will tap the incremental revenues from the fuel excise tax and other TRAIN Law taxes.
“In order to ease the burden on the commuting public due to the spike in the price of prime commodities caused by the spiraling fuel prices, let us expand the coverage of Libreng Sakay not only to include the Edsa Carousel Route but also other routes and train rides not only for students but for all up to December 31, 2022, thus the need for a supplemental budget,” Arrogancia said.
“If the reasoning for excluding non-students from rail and light rail Libreng Sakay is the recent rounds of minimum wage hikes, my response is: that only catches up with some of the elevated inflation and would not be enough for PUJ and tricycle fare hikes,” he said.
This developed as Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte appealed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to consider including in the extended free ride program senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and solo parents.
He also proposed to the DOTr and the LTFRB to streamline and simplify the validation process to make it easy for beneficiary-commuters to avail of such free rides.
Villafuerte, former vice chair of the House committee on appropriations, also called on the incoming Congress “to weigh up the approval of a higher public transport budget in the 2023 GAA (General Appropriations Act) and subsequent GAAs so the Marcos administration could continue Libreng Sakay next year and onwards.”
“With transport costs now eating up a large share of the overall inflation rate in Metro Manila alone, such free rides would prove to be a big help in cushioning the impact of the fuel price shock on the commuting public,” Villafuerte said.