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Villafuerte presses DOTr, DBM to look for ₱1.4B to continue free EDSA bus rides

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By Billy Begas

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte on Wednesday pressed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to scour for fresh funds to continue the government’s Libreng Sakay program in EDSA.

“This is the very least that the new Administration can do for poor and low-income commuters in the NCR at this time of a global oil shock that has jacked up headline inflation and prompted the government to increase public transport fares,” Villafuerte said.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the memorandum the DOTr submitted to continue the Libreng Sakay program. He said an additional P1.4 billion is needed to continue the free rides along EDSA until December.

“President BBM’s move to green light on day one of his presidency the extension of the Libreng Sakay program is a harbinger of the better days ahead on his watch for our people, particularly the masa who have been hit the hardest by the economic crisis touched off by the over two-year COVID-19 pandemic plus the oil price shock, food supply squeeze and other ill effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Villafuerte added.

The DOTr also announced that the Metro Rail Transit 3, Light Rail Transit 2, and Philippine National Railways will provide free rides to students from August 22 to November 4, 2022.

Villafuerte appealed to the DOTr to streamline and simplify the validation process to make it easy for students-beneficiaries to avail of the free rides.

He said the continuation of the free rides “is a telling mark of his (Marcos) clear-cut desire to deliver on his ‘Bangon Bayan Muli’ presidential campaign promise to uplift the lives of all Filipinos.”

The solon also renewed his appeal for the DOTr to include senior citizens, persons with disability (PWDs), and solo parents among the beneficiaries of the free rides in the three railway systems.

The solon said that Congress should put enough funds under the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to continue the Libreng Sakay program next year.

Villafuerte also appealed to government agencies to speed up the release of a P1,000 fuel subsidy for over 600,000 qualified tricycle driver-beneficiaries.

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