Transport sector aid scrapped in 2022 budget | Inquirer News

Transport sector aid scrapped in 2022 budget

MANILA, Philippines — While drivers and commuters welcomed the resumption this week of the “Libreng Sakay” program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), it may be short-lived after its funding was scrapped from the DOTr’s P150.76-billion proposed budget for 2022.

At the House budget hearing on the DOTr on Wednesday, Transportation Undersecretary Giovanni Lopez told lawmakers that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) rejected its P10-billion proposal to fund the Service Contracting Program (SCP) and free-ride service of the agency.


“We included service contracting in our proposal submitted to the DBM. Unfortunately, this was not included [by the DBM in the National Expenditure Program],” Lopez said.

Under the SCP implemented by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and drivers get a onetime payout of P4,000 and weekly payments based on the number of kilometers traveled, regardless of the number of passengers.


In July this year, it was suspended by the DOTr after the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or the Bayanihan 2 law, expired on June 30. It had a budget of P5.5 billion.

Public need

The LTFRB also has pending payouts to driver-beneficiaries amounting to P3.38 billion from the first phase of the SCP.

On Monday, the DOTr resumed the SCP and the free rides for medical front-liners and other essential workers after the agency secured a P3-billion allocation from the 2021 budget.

During the House budget hearing, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade appealed to lawmakers to restore its P10-billion proposed budget for the two programs.

During the implementation of the “Libreng Sakay” for two and half months under Bayanihan 2, Tugade said it was able to provide free rides to 35 million passengers.

“What does this mean? There is a need from the public,” he said.

Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, chair of the House committee on transportation, urged his fellow lawmakers to review the budget cut on the DOTr.


“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,” Sarmiento said.


For displaced transport workers, the SCP should be a permanent program to address commuter safety and improve their livelihood.

Ernesto Cruz, a jeepney operator and member of the Move As One Coalition, said they proposed to the DOTr as early as last year to make service contracting part of the regular public transport program, and not just a temporary solution during the pandemic.

Cruz, who also heads the National Confederation of Transport Workers Union, said that institutionalizing the SCP was essential in preparing transport cooperatives for the impending PUV modernization.

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TAGS: 2022 national budget, transport sector aid
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