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Lawyer urges DOTr, TRB to implement toll discounts for seniors

/ 10:02 PM September 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) should order the management of skyways and expressways to implement a 20-percent toll discount for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, a lawyer said on Monday.

According to election lawyer and senior citizens’ rights advocate Romulo Macalintal, the toll management should start implementing the discounts, especially since the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) in all toll lines have been required.

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Macalintal cited Section 6.6, Rule 4 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 9442 or the Magna Carta for PWDs, plus the Article 7 of R.A. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010’s IRR as compelling reasons why toll discounts must be given to senior citizens and PWDs.

“Section 6.6, Rule 4 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A 9442, the Magna Carta for PWDs clearly provides that PWDs shall be entitled to  ‘at least 20% on the toll of skyways and expressways’ provided the vehicle is registered in their names as owners thereof,” he said in a statement.

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“Toll operators should likewise grant said 20% discount to SCs (senior citizens) provided the vehicle on which the RFID is installed is registered in the name of the SC,” he added.

Macalital noted that he has sent a letter to DOTr Secretary and TRB Chairperson Arthur Tugade on Monday to discuss the issue, which he believes is pressing since RFIDs are now being placed on a lot of vehicles owned and ridden by seniors, as the toll systems would go fully electronic as the government requires.

RFIDs are tags that send and receive data when placed near RFID readers.  In the context of toll fee ticketing systems, these special stickers are placed on a vehicle’s windshield or headlights to allow scanners to read them.

Instead of physically paying the tolls and transacting with toll booth tellers at toll plazas, RFIDs are paid in advance much like a prepaid cellphone load — storing data about their top-ups that allow motorists to skip long lines and enter closed expressways faster.

This method also comes in handy during this coronavirus pandemic, as it limits exposure of toll employees and drivers.

Recently, there was a surge in RFID applications in various closed expressway systems in the country, with DOTr ordering full electronic toll payments by November 2 to slow down COVID-19 transmissions.

READ: Metro Pacific tollroads now at 75% electronic payments 

READ: SMC tollroads going cashless 

But if users pay the tolls in advance, usually in bigger amounts, how can senior citizens and PWDs avail of discount without humans manning the toll booth?  Macalintal says there may be a way to do it:

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“It is suggested that the 20% discount may be deducted from the total amount of RFID load or may be added thereto.  For example, if the SC or PWD loads P1,000.00, he either gets the P200.00 discount or the P200.00 may be added to the total amount of load he buys, in which case his total load will amount to P1,200.00,” he said.

“To avail of said discount the SCs or PWDs shall be required to present the original copy of their car registration showing them as owners thereof and, for the SC, any original copy of government-issued ID which shows the SC’s date of birth; for the PWDs, the original copy of their PWD ID, copies of which will be retained by the toll operators,” he added. [ac]

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