The House Committee on Transportation has endorsed for plenary approval a resolution urging the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to defer the implementation of the radio frequency identification (RFID) system until January 1, 2021.
Adopted by the Transportation panel during a virtual hearing Wednesday was House Resolution (HR) No.1367, authored by Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo. The measure was filed only last November 18.
The RFID cashless payment system is set to be implemented on tollways beginning December 1, 2020. However, Castelo said that many motorists’ vehicles have yet to be installed with RFID.
“Napakahirap po to avail of it online, on-site (It’s so hard to avail of it online or on-site). I feel that it (December 1 deadline) is not an ample time for us,” she said in her sponsorship speech.
“Once again I’d like to reiterate, I’m in full support of its full implementation, however, sana po ma-extend po yung deadline until January 1. Magpa-pasko napo, tsaka natin to i-implement fully? Baka hindi ho tayo handa, mas lalong magkaroon po ng problema sa trapiko at congestion (I hope the deadline would be extended until January 1. It’ll be Christmas soon, and we’re going to fully implement it? We may not be ready, we’ll just end up having bigger traffic and congestion problems),” said Castelo, an assistant majority leader.
Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) Executive Director Abe Sales, a resource person in the hearing, said that up to 30,000 RFID installations can be made per day. “Ang number po ng vehicles na mayroon nang RFID, more than 3.2 million napo (There are now more than 3.2 million vehicles with RFID),” he said.
Sales said that current RFID penetration on the expressways is “60 to 70 percent,” implying that there’s still a huge number of motorists opting for the cash payment lane. The deadline is less than a week away.
Panel chairman, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento later carried a motion to adopt HR No.1367. Later, a motion to have brand new vehicles and vehicles that undergo registration renewal automatically outfitted with RFIDs was also approved as an amendment to the resolution.
The adoption or approval of a resolution in plenary–which is the next step for HR No.1367–doesn’t have the binding effect of a law. What it will have going for it, however, is the recommendation of the entire 300-member House.
Panel vice chairman, Bulacan Rep. Apol Pancho said that the proposed month-long postponement window could be used by authorities to iron out the kinks of the RFID system, since “glitches” are still present.
“Isabay na rin po natin yung proper education ng motorists (Let’s also ensure the proper education of motorists while we’re at it),” he said.