A little more than a month ago, the Libreng Sakay program along EDSA needed PHP 1.4B to continue its service until year’s end. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been exerting a lot of effort to provide effective and accessible transportation, more so now that face-to-face classes have begun resuming. The EDSA busway is used by hundreds of commuters daily, and after the granting of their request, free bus rides for everyone can thankfully continue.
Libreng Sakay will continue to service EDSA Busway commuters until December 31 this year
The DOTr launched the Libreng Sakay program to provide transportation assistance to commuters, especially workers and students. Despite being in the thick of a pandemic, this was a means to get safe and comfortable travel for all those who needed to get from their nearest stations to their work, school, and back home. The program also provided financial incentives to bus drivers who volunteered to, well, drive the program’s buses.
Libreng Sakay has gotten caught in a few snags, the biggest of which was the needed funding to continue until the end of 2022. But in line with the President’s call to extend the program, the required PHP 1.4B budget was released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on August 9, 2022.
This is great news, of course, especially for those who ply EDSA along their daily routes. Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Atty. Cheloy E. Velicaria-Garafil exclaimed her relief and happiness for the approved budget request, which she said in the vernacular:
“Natutuwa kami sa naging mabilis na aksyon ng DBM para maaprubahan ang P1.4B na pondo para sa pagpapatuloy ng Libreng Sakay. Ready to be disbursed na po ‘yan kaya makakaasa po ang ating mga kababayan na sumasakay sa EDSA Busway na dire-diretso po ang ating serbisyo hanggang Disyembre.”
The Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) amounting to PHP 1.4B was approved by DBM Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman via a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO). The said amount will (rather, should) be enough to cover the additional funding requirements to extend the Service Contracting Program of Libreng Sakay that has proven invaluable to students and laborers alike.
Regarding another issue on payments yet to be handed out to drivers and operators, LTFRB Chairman Garafil stated that the agency has already given the payout for the Service Contracting Program covering until Week 15 or July 17-23, 2022. There still is a backlog of 2 weeks, but the agency is working to give the payments out as soon as possible, with delays being caused by required verification processes.
Garafil later added:
“Maraming salamat sa DBM dahil magpapatuloy ang libreng sakay sa EDSA Busway alinsunod sa kagustuhan ng ating Pangulong Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. Patuloy din po naming pinag-aaralan ang iba’t ibang paraan upang higit na mapabilis at mas kumportable ang biyahe ng ating mga pasahero.”
For everyone who uses the Libreng Sakay program along the EDSA busway, this is very great news. It’s quite refreshing (and frankly, very surprising) to see such quick action on the approval and delivery of such budgets that would benefit the masses, but we’re not complaining at all. If this is a sign of things to come, then we’d gladly welcome all the approved budgets and programs to help move the Filipino commuters efficiently, safely, and economically.