President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered government agencies implementing the cashless payment systems in public transportation to make beep cards free of charge to commuters.
Duterte clarified that only the card would be distributed free of charge. Commuters will have to pay for the fares.
"Give the card free," Duterte said in the late night briefing on Monday.
“I would like to talk to [Transportation] Secretary [Arthur] Tugade next meeting because I would raise with him the possibility of giving it free,” he added.
Many commuters were earlier caught off guard by the “no Beep card, no ride” policy implemented at the EDSA Busway.
The stored value card was sold as P80 each. Further, each card must have a P65 maintaining balance before it could be used.
Duterte said it was “heartbreaking” to see commuters come up short in paying for a Beep card.
“Card lang naman ‘yan, ibigay na ‘yan libre. Bakit pabayaran pa ‘yan? We have been wasting so many billions to corruption tapos ‘yan hindi mabigay?” he said.
The Department of Transportation on Sunday suspended the mandatory use of Beep cards at the EDSA Busway after the AF Payments Inc., operator of the automatic fare collection system, refused to make the cards free.
Tugade had earlier threatened to stop the use of Beep cards at the EDSA Busway unless AF Payments gave it away for free.
The consortium later clarified that it sells the Beep cards at cost.
Earlier on Monday, AF Payments said it will issue 125,000 Beep cards for free “to ease the burden of passengers who have challenges buying a Beep card.”
“Alam mo, if that is how it is being implemented, hurriedly, or it’s for public interest that it be implemented kaagad, make provisions for these people… those who have nothing in life,” Duterte said.
“Ayaw ko nang makita sunod na you have failed to make some provisions for this. You have to have extra Beep diyan na magbigay kayo ng card na hindi mag-beep… Okay na yan, basta pasakayin ninyo ang mga tao,” he added.
The President also lamented how announcements regarding the mandatory use of Beep cards in EDSA was only published in English.
“Ang problema nitong letseng ito ay you only publish it in newspapers and radios in english. Ang problema ko lang, may mga taong di nakikinig sa radyo, lalo na ‘yung mahihirap. Ano ba sa kanila ‘yan?” he said.—NB/LDF, GMA News