June 25, 2024








Hontiveros concerned of higher public transport fares after Bayanihan 2 expiry

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday, July 2, raised concern that commuters would have to deal with higher fares with fewer public utility vehicles (PUVs) on roads after the expiration of funds for service contracting program under the Bayanihan 2 law.

“Hindi lang ang pansamantalang pagtigil ng ‘Libreng Sakay’ program ang epekto ng pagkawala ng bilyong-bilyong pisong pondo para sa service contracting (Not only the free rides will be temporarily stopped when the service contracting is no longer funded),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Kung hindi agad kikilos ang Department of Transportation (DOTr) at ang Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), biglang tataas din ang gastusin ng mga commuter dahil sa kakulangan ng bumabiyaheng jeep at bus sa lansangan (If the DOTr and the LTFRB will not take immediate actions, commuters might have to pay higher fares because of the lack of jeeps and buses on roads),” she warned.

The “Bayanihan to Recover as One” or Bayanihan 2 law lapsed on Wednesday, June 30.

The law appropriated ₱5.58 billion for the service contracting with the public transportation sector, which, in turn, gave free rides to frontline workers and other commuters amid the pandemic.

Since the program started last year, however, only about ₱1.5 billion has been released to PUV operators and drivers. Under the Bayanihan 2, funds not obligated would reverted to the national treasury.

The LTFRB earlier announced the temporary suspension of the program due to the Bayanihan 2’s expiry. It said it will continue the program with the ₱3-billion funding for the PUV service contracting program under the 2021 budget, which has yet to be disbursed to the agency by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“Kung mababawasan ang jeepney at bus, mapipilitan na lumipat ang mga kababayan natin sa taxi, tricycle o transport vehicle network service (TNVS) kung saan di hamak na lalaki ang kanilang gastusin, lalo na kung rush hour (If there are less jeepney or buses, our countrymen would be forced to ride taxis, tricycle or TNVS which charge higher fares, especially during rush hours),” she said.

“Dobleng pahirap iyan sa taumbayan ngayong marami ang walang trabaho at mahal ang bilihin (It’s a double whammy for our people when many of them are jobless and prices of goods are surging),” she pointed out.

The senator said the DOTr and the LTFRB should ask the DBM to quickly release the funds needed for the program to resume.

She also urged the agencies to work with local government units to co-finance service contracting agreements to augment the funds. At the same time, she said the government must address the issues that delayed the service contracting program.