Senator Sonny Angara said the government’s Libreng Sakay program which has benefitted commuters since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago will continue in 2023.
He noted that a substantial amount was included by Congress under the 2023 General Appropriations Act to ensure the continuous implementation of the program.
“The Libreng Sakay program has benefited hundreds of thousands of our commuters, who have been clamoring for its continuation as a way to ease their burden from the rising costs of fuel and basic goods and commodities,” Angara said.
“These days every peso counts and whatever little savings that could be realized is highly appreciated,” he added.
Angara, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Finance, said the Libreng Sakay or the PUV Service Contracting program of the Department of Transportation was initially not funded under the National Expenditure Program or the version of the 2023 national budget that was submitted by Malacañang to Congress earlier this year.
Under the 2023 General Appropriations Act, a total of P2.16 billion was allocated for the PUV Service Contracting Program, through the initiative of Congress.
This includes the P1.285 billion in programmed appropriations and another P875 million lodged under unprogrammed appropriations.
What started out as a way to transport frontliners during the lockdowns, the Libreng Sakay program has become one of the more impactful initiatives of the government during the pandemic.
When the lockdowns were lifted, he said more people patronized the Libreng Sakay service, including students and other members of the labor force.
Angra said he believes it’s a big thing to continue with Libreng Sakay in these times, especially with the heavy burden to people due to the surge in prices.
For the September 1 to December 31, 2022 period of implementation of the Libreng Sakay, 628 buses were contracted to service the EDSA Busway Route that will accommodate up to 50 million passengers, based on data from the Department of Budget and Management.
Apart from EDSA in Metro Manila, the Libreng Sakay program will also benefit commuters from other parts of the country.