DOTr seeks Lower House’s help to restore budget for 2022 service contracting program

Published September 15, 2021, 5:00 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Wednesday sought the help of the House of Representatives in restoring the budget for its service contracting program under the proposed 2022 national budget.

Transportation Undersecretary for Finance Undersecretary Giovanni Lopez told the House Committee on Appropriations that it requested P10-billion worth of funds for the program but this was not approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“We requested for P10-billion for that program… but unfortunately, hindi po naisama sa NEP (it was not included in the National Expenditure Program),” Lopez said during the House Committee on Appropriations hearing on the proposed P150.76-billion budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached agencies.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade agreed and appealed to the committee to help the agency sustain its free ridership program and the service contracting program.

“Talagang kelangan ho naming yung pondo para dun sa service contracting. Hindi lang ho ang makikinabang dyan ay yung konduktor or yung driver, di lang pasahero. Buong ekonomiya ho iyan (We really need the funds for the service contract. It’s not only the conductors, bus drivers or the passengers who will benefit from it. The whole economy will),” Tugade said.

“Kelangan yan para sa pagpasok sa trabaho, pag mamalengke. Pagpunta sa eswkelahan…Maganda yung programa, pero wala kaming pondo (We need transportation for those who are working, for those who are going to the market, for those going to school. The program is good, but we don’t have the funds),” he lamented.

According to Tugade, the DOTr was only given about P1-billion for the road sector under the NEP.

“Kaya po ngayon nag susumamo ako, please tulungan nyo kami magkaroon ng budget para sa libreng sakay at service contracting. Tulungan nyo kami na magkaroon ng (That’s why I am appealing that you help us have a budget for the free ridership program and service contracting. Help us sustain an) active budget for the active transport),” the DOTr chief emphasized.

In response, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, who chairs the House Committee on Transportation, committed to assist the DOTr, and the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to reassess their budget “so we can give them the necessary funds.”

“This pandemic, based on study, will be another flu in the making,” Sarmiento pointed out.

“I would strongly manifest that we again assess the budget and provide a service contracting amount of no less than P3-billion for the 2022 budget,” the solon said.