The House leadership assured Filipinos Tuesday, Nov. 29 that it will pursue the retention of earmarked funds for the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) fuel subsidy and “Libreng Sakay” programs under the proposed 2023 national budget.
“This is one of the pro-people provisions of the proposed national budget. Kailangan ito ng mga mamamayan (Our countrymen need this),” said House Speaker and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez in a statement.
The House of Representatives had set aside P2.5 billion for the Pantawid Pasada Fuel program, P2 billion for the Libreng Sakay (free ride), and P1 billion for bike lanes construction for a total of P5.5 billion.
Romualdez said these are part of the P77-billion institutional amendments for pro-people programs in the P5.268-trillion national budget or General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2023.
He said the Pantawid Pasada and Libreng Sakay programs in particular give direct relief to the people amid persisting high prices of fuel.
“Ayuda ito (Pantawid Pasada) sa mga drayber at operators sa panahon ng pagtaas ng presyo ng produktong petrolyo. At ang Libreng Sakay naman ay malaking tulong sa ating commuter na nahihirapang pagkasyahin ang kita sa isang araw (The Pantawid Pasada is aid to the drivers and operators in this time of high petroleum prices. On the other hand, the Libreng Sakay will be a huge help to our commuters who struggle to make ends meet everyday),” Romualdez explained.
“House believes that the Libreng Sakay program will really help commuters. Pinondohan namin ‘yan dahil kailangan (We funded it because we know it is neededl)” Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said.
The service contracting or Libreng Sakay program of the DOTr and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) was launched at then height of the Covid-19 pandemic in and was mandated under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. It was continued in 2021and 2022.
Bike lanes, meanwhile, encourage citizens to use bicycles to go to and from work. “It is a way to be physically healthy and at the same time reduces vehicles on the road,” Co added.
Co is part of the House contingent to the Bicameral Conference Committee meeting on the 2023 GAB, whose members are tasked to finalize the details of the budget next year, including the institutional amendments.