Senate committee summons Tugade over RFID mess
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate committee on public services will summon Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to answer the “lamentable experience” of motorists from his department’s alleged “ill-studied” order for expressway operators to implement cashless toll collection.
Senator Grace Poe, chair of the panel, has filed a resolution that asks the DOTr to revisit the order and suspend its full implementation.
“Today iniikot na ang resolution na ‘yan galing sa committee ko. Narinig ko na kay Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, na isa sa mga naunang naghain niyan, na susuportahan nga niya itong tawag na ito,” she said in an interview on Thursday.
(Today, the resolution is being circulated by my committee. I have heard from Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who was one of the first to file the resolution (on toll operators), that he would support this call.)
“Kasi sa DOTr ‘yan… Bakit hahayaan na magbakbakan ang operator at local government at magdusa ang taumbayan,” she added.
(The order is from the DOTr… Why let the operator and local government fight and the people suffer?)
Poe noted that the DOTr’s order for a 100-percent cashless transaction was released only in August for full implementation in November. The scheduled implementation was later moved to December.
She said that the insufficient preparation for this shift in cashless payments has resulted in long lines in installation sites for radio frequency identification (RFID) stickers, creating traffic choke points.
“We are asking the DOTr to suspend the full implementation of the 100-percent cashless transaction it compelled toll operators. The system isn’t completely ready,” Poe explained.
Besides making this call, Poe also pointed out that some toll operators’ P500-minimum load requirement should be reviewed.
“That minimum load is a big amount for some, especially if the toll they need to pay is just less than P100. That minimum load is even higher than the minimum wage,” Poe said.
The senator explained that the hearing might be conducted next week as Senate rules require a three-day period after the filing of resolution before a hearing can be conducted. She said the resolution that would summon Tugade is now being circulated among senators for signature.
“All this chaos could have been avoided had the DOTr consulted with its shareholders and listened to their concerns,” Poe also said.
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