STRESSING that the program has been very beneficial to millions of essential workers and commuters, presidential aspirant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. will make the free rides at the Edsa Carousel Bus route permanent once he and his running mate Mayor Inday Sara Duterte are elected in the coming May 9 national elections.
In a recent interview, the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard bearer said that he is always on the lookout for programs and initiatives that will benefit millions of Filipinos and become major game changers as far as governance is concerned, just like what his father former President Ferdinand E. Marcos did for millions of Filipino workers who now get to enjoy their 13th month pay every Christmas.
The younger Marcos stressed that the government should continue the Free Ride Program at Edsa Carousel because it is “a big help for essential and frontline medical workers, especially now that there is a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the country”.
“I am appealing to the government to institutionalize the free bus rides and give our kababayans a leg up in their journey towards recovery. For some, this has become a lifeline, a means to augment their income,” said Marcos.
According to the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), up to 31 million commuters have benefited from the program.
“The savings people will get from this would allow them to spend more on their daily needs such as food for their families. I hope that the government will be able to give this ‘gift’ to the people,” he added.
“Mahal na mahal po namin ni Inday Sara ang taga-Metro Manila kaya pareho kaming nananawagan sa pamahalaan na sana’y ituloy uli ito. Ipinapangako naman namin na sakaling kami ang palarin ay hinding-hindi namin ito ihihinto dahil napakagandang legasiya nito para sa administrasyon ng Pangulong Duterte,” said Marcos.
Last week, the LTFRB announced that the ‘Libreng Sakay Program’ for essential workers and Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) on the EDSA Carousel bus ended on December 22.
According to the LTFRB, the program has already used up the funds allocated from the 2021 General Appropriations Act.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) even tried to request another P10-B fund for the continuation of the free rides and service contracting program for 2022, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) rejected the appeal.
The EDSA Carousel is a bus route with select stations and dedicated bus lanes with concrete barriers that spare them from the usual heavy traffic along Edsa.
Its regular route runs along the entire length of Edsa from Monumento to PITX-Paranaque and vice versa.
Its operation started on June 1, 2020 when the entire Metro Manila was placed under general community quarantine (GCQ).
Because it is free and convenient, the program is enjoyed by commuters who are also grateful because they can arrive in their respective destinations faster.
Each carousel bus commuter saves an average P100 in fare per day, which is an equivalent of P3,000 per month.
“Kung mabibigyan po ako ng pagkakataon ng makapaglingkod bilang pangulo ay titiyakin ko po na lahat ng aking iisipin at gagawin ay para sa ikabubuti lamang ng sambayanan,” Bongbong pointed out.
“Katulad din po ng aking ama na ang mga ginawa sa panahon ng kanyang panunungkulan ay nakikita at napapakinabangan pa ng ating bansa at mga kababayan hanggang ngayon gaya na lang nang isabatas niya ang 13th month pay law,” Bongbong added.
To recall, the elder Marcos is universally recognized as the man who mandated and required all employers to pay their employees their 13th Month Pay by virtue of his Presidential Decree 851 which he signed on December 16, 1975.
In his explanatory note, the former president said that it is necessary to protect the level of real wages from the ravages of worldwide inflation; as there has been no increase in the legal minimum wage rates since 1970.
He added the Christmas season is an opportune time for society to show its concern for the plight of the working masses so they may properly celebrate Christmas and New Year.
As a result, millions of both government and private sector workers from then on until now are still reaping the benefits brought by PD 851.