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Restoration of DOTr’s budget sought

October 1, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 151 views

To continue ‘Libreng Sakay’, address plate backlogs

A LAWMAKER has called on Congress to restore the requested budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for its service contracting program (SCP) “Libreng Sakay”, and the proposed allocation of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to address its backlog on plate numbers.

During his interpellation on the proposed 2023 DOTr budget, Agri Party-list Representative Wilbert Lee underscored the importance of the Libreng Sakay program, stating that scrapping it during these challenging times would be a disservice to the millions of Filipino commuters who continue to benefit from the program.

“The Libreng Sakay program extensively helps millions of our fellow Filipinos. Sa Libreng Sakay, natutulungan at nakikinabang hindi lang ang mga commuter, kundi pati na rin ang mga operator, driver at transport cooperatives. Mas malaki rin ang perang maaaring gamitin ng lahat para sa iba pang gastusin at bilihin. Winner tayo lahat. I am aware that this is not a sustainable program for our riding public, but rising oil prices have continued to exacerbate our existing transport crisis since the pandemic occurred,” Lee said.

“On top of that, tuloy-tuloy ang paghina ng piso. A weaker peso leads to higher prices of goods and overall inflation. Once the cost of goods increases, ordinary citizens spend less on the basic necessities and food items. Wrong timing kung ngayon ititigil ang programang ito sa gitna ng lahat ng krisis na pinagdadaanan ng mamamayan at ng sektor ng transportasyon,” Lee added.

The lawmaker from Sorsogon manifested that he will introduce the amendments necessary to restore the P12 billion needed to continue the Libreng Sakay, reiterating that this program should continue at least until the end of 2023 for the benefit of the millions of commuters.

As of June 21, LTFRB reported that the Libreng Sakay program has served 203.6 million passengers.

Lee also followed up on the vehicle and motor plate backlog, a standing program of the LTO since 2014. For 2022, the LTO requested a P6.8-B budget to address the backlog, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed this to P4.7-B, funding that is lower by P2.1B.

Upon Lee’s questioning, the LTO revealed that they still have a backlog of 11,541,050 plate numbers. They also confirmed that since 2017, the government had not allocated any funds for this.

“This is very unfortunate. It’s a terrible situation for both the government and our public. Nagbayad na sila sa gobyerno para sa isang serbisyo pero hindi pa rin nagawa ito ng pamahalaan. Obligasyon ng pamahalaan na gawin at tapusin ang mga plakang ito. Isipin nyo: Naluma na yung kotse nila, wala pa rin yung plaka. Utang ng gobyerno ang mga plakang ito sa taumbayan,” Lee stated.

“I’m seriously pushing that we fund this backlog on plate numbers because this is one of the important tools of the government for law enforcement. With the emergence of a number of crimes where escape vehicles are being used, lalo ngayong marami ang nauulat na kidnapping, malaki ang maitutulong nitong pagtapos sa backlog sa mga plaka,” he added.

LTO, for their part, committed that once their requested budget was provided, they can erase the backlog on plate numbers next year.

Last Sept. 27, Lee filed House Resolution No. 418 urging the House Committee on Appropriations to restore the P12-B budget for the Libreng Sakay program and grant an additional P2.1-B budget to LTO to finally address the backlog on plate numbers.

“I hope that my esteemed colleagues will support me on this. Tutukan natin ito at makikipagtulungan tayo sa mga kaukulang ahensya. Sa susunod na taon, ako mismo ang maniningil kung mayroon mang naging kakulangan o kapabayaang nangyari,” Lee said.

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