By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III is proposing to exempt all vehicles from paying toll fees on certain public holidays.
To achieve this Sotto recently filed Senate Bill No. 2220, which seeks to amend the Presidential Decree 1112, which created the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and imposed the collection of toll fees for public infrastructure improvements.
Section 6 of PD 1112 provides that only government vehicles on official business are exempted from paying toll fees under “procedures and circumstances” promulgated by the TRB.
SB 2220 seeks to cover “all vehicles” in the exemption.
The proposed toll holiday, however, shall only apply on specific holidays and under procedures and circumstances promulgated by the TRB.
Waiving toll fees will help ease congestion in toll gates during holidays, Sotto said.
Traffic volume reportedly increases by 10 to 15 percent during holidays.
“This will ensure smooth travel through the North Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and other connecting toll highways,” the Senate President said in his bill.
“With all the negative impact that the worsening traffic situation in the country has brought to its people, providing solution to the condition even on certain days could really ease the burden on the affected Filipinos,” he added.
Sotto said he has long been proposing to lift the collection of toll fees during holidays, which result to long queues of motorists en route to out-of-town destinations and back.
The Senate chief cited the study made by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that the Philippines is losing P3.5 billion daily to traffic congestion in Metro Manila, and might worsen to P5.4 billion worth of losses a day by 2035 if not addressed.