There’s no such thing as a free lunch, we’re constantly reminded by economists, telling us in no uncertain terms that its is impossible to get something for nothing.
But the ‘Libreng Sakay’ or free bus rides program of the Marcos administration being implemented along the EDSA Busway is probably the closest thing we can get to a free lunch in this part of the Pacific.
After all, it’s the Department of Budget and Management that is releasing the money to the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board to resume the project that the commuting public will most certainly welcome with open arms but unopened wallets.
The Libreng Sakay program has been allocated P1.285 billion that will be released once the necessary documents are completed by the DBM.
Said Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman: “We understand the plight of our commuting public, so President Bongbong Marcos gave us the directive to do our part, and to exert our best to help ease their burden.”
“Whatever amount they [commuters] can save daily, they can allocate to more important needs such as food, electricity, tuition, among others,” she added.
We agree completely.
In this period of runaway inflation where prices of basic commodities have gone through the roof and the peso can buy only a small fraction of what it used to buy, say, one to two years ago, savings of P50 to P100 for every round trip across the length of EDSA everyday can be heaven-sent.
We are well aware that given the number of commuters at EDSA during weekdays, the P1.285 billion subsidy for the EDSA Busway will probably be depleted in a few months, unless replenished by taxes.
But we do hope the administration can raise more funds to keep the Libreng Sakay for as long as possible, or within the limits of government capacity to come up with additional funds.
Keeping the EDSA Busway going at no cost to commuters because it is funded by taxpayers’ money shows that the government recognizes the woeful state of our public transportation system and thinks of the welfare and convenience of those who have to eke out a living on a daily basis. Let’s keep it going that way.
After all, the public welfare must override private privilege.
Governments are established for the welfare of the people, and to accomplish this purpose properly, they have to follow the suggestions of the citizens who are the ones qualified to understand their own needs.
That was Jose Rizal speaking, and it’s something worth bearing in mind as we navigate tight shoals and rocky roads.