OVP launches ‘Libreng Sakay’ program; to use 5 buses lent by private sector
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Vice President (OVP) on Wednesday launched its “Libreng Sakay” program, which will use five buses lent by the private sector.
Vice President Sara Duterte said the five buses were lent to her when she was still running for the vice presidency in the 2022 elections.
After she assumed office, she said the buses were then lent to the OVP but were mostly put on standby unless there were transportation requests made by different groups.
“These were buses that were lent to us during the campaign and pagkatapos ng kampanya, pagkatapos ng election day, wala na silang biyahe, wala na silang ginagawa, nakaparking lang lagi,” Duterte said in her speech during the launching ceremony at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
(After the campaign, after election day, these buses were on standby, not doing anything and were always parked.)
This is when the OVP decided to use the buses for its “Libreng Sakay” program to augment a similar program currently being run by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
“The team decided na kahit five units lang ito, mas makakatulong ito if we give support to the Libreng Sakay of the DOTr and thank you for welcoming us to your project,” she said.
Duterte said two buses will be used in Metro Manila, one to be used in Davao City, one to be used in Cebu, and one to be used in Bacolod.
She said the OVP’s :Libreng Sakay” program aims to “provide relief” to Filipinos dependent on public transportation to go to work, school, and many other places.
“It will support the national government’s program, and at the same time, it is hoped that this meager contribution would translate to daily savings for our public transport riding kababayans,” she said.
The Vice President also emphasized the collaboration of the government and the private sector, especially in a time of several crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis.
“Napatunayan na naman natin na walang problemang hindi kayang solusyunan kung tayo ay nagkakaisa at naniniwala na sa tulong ng ating gobyerno at mga kaibigan at supporters sa pribadong sektor, malalampasan natin ang lahat ng hamon na ating kinakaharap,” she said.
(We have proved again that no problem can’t be solved if we unite, and if we believe in the help of the government and our friends and supporters in the private sector, we will be able to overcome any challenge that we face in the future.)
Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista thanked the OVP for the additional buses that will support its “Libreng Sakay” program for the Edsa busway carousel.
Bautista said the OVP’s “Libreng Sakay” program will help commuters of going to work and going to school.
The additional buses will likewise be useful when classes start this month. The buses will be useful to students who will be attending in-person classes, Bautista added.
“Ka-isa po ang Kaluguran ng Transportasyon sa hangarin ng ating Pangalawang Pangulo na tulungang ibsan ang pasanin ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa panahon ngayon,” he said in his speech during the launching ceremony.
(The DOTr is one with the Vice President in easing the burden of Filipinos, especially in a crucial time like this.)
“This is one of the crucial ways where we can attain our goal of providing accessible, affordable, comfortable, and safe transport service to all Filipinos,” Bautista added.
In June, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board announced that the free bus rides on Edsa will end on July 31, saying that 80 percent of the P7-billion budget for the entire free rides program, including those for the service contracting program of public utility vehicles , had been used up.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier approved the extension of the free rides on the Edsa Busway Carousel until the end of this year.
Bautista earlier said an additional P1.4 billion is needed for this.
OVP spokesman Atty. Reynold Munsayac said the two buses that will be used in Metro Manila will ply Edsa from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
He added that the OVP aims to accommodate more routes, including Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, should they get additional buses from the private sector.
The buses will likewise stay with the OVP for the next six years, thus the “Libreng Sakay” program is seen to last that long.
“Susubukan natin na palawakin pa para mas marami ang makinabang,” Munsayac said in a chance interview.
He said the OVP only pays for the cost of fuel and maintenance of the buses while the private sector that lent the vehicles pays for the drivers’ salaries.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the DOTr, meanwhile are not shouldering any cost for the program.
“Wala namang obligasyon ‘yung LTFRB o ‘yung DOTr. Binabayaran kasi, kumbaga ‘yung pagpapahiram ng OVP na ‘to ng mga bus na ipinahiram din sa amin, ay wala ho talagang kakargahin dito ‘yung gobyerno,” Munsayac said.
(The LTFRB or DOTr has no obligation to pay because the OVP lent these buses to them, which were also lent to us, so the government will not pay anything for it.) – Christine Annie Asistio, Andy Hoo, INQUIRER.net trainees