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Speaker pushes for retention of P5.5 billion transportation subsidy in 2023 budget

Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte called on his colleagues to retain the P5.5 billion transportation subsidy in the proposed P5.26 trillion budget for 2023 passed by the House of Representatives on third and final reading.

Romualdez made the call with the House and Senate still reconciling the differences in each body's version of the budget.

The P5.5 billion transportation subsidy included in the Department of Transportation's (DOTr's) budget breaks down to:

  • P2.5 billion for the Pantawid Pasada Fuel Program,
  • P2 billion for Libreng Sakay (free ride), and
  • P1 billion of bike lane construction.

“This is one of the pro-people provisions of the proposed national budget. Kailangan ito ng mga mamamayan (The public needs this),” Romualdez said in a statement.

“Pantawid Pasada at Libreng Sakay [subsidies] will directly benefit drivers and operators at a time of rising prices of basic commodities and oil prices while Libreng Sakay is an immediate relief for commuters,” Romualdez added.

House appropriations panel chairperson Zaldy Co of Ako Bicol agreed, saying the House would not have funded the programs if these were not urgently needed.

“Bike lanes will also encourage the public to use bicycles which is a way to be physically healthy while reducing vehicles plying the roads at the same time,” Co added.

The service contracting or Libreng Sakay program of the DOTr and the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board started in 2020 as provided under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. Since then, it has been continued in years 2021 and 2022.

Under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s original proposal for P5.26 trillion budget for 2023, the DOTr had zero budget for Libreng Sakay. The Office of Vice President, on the other hand, allocated P32.5 million budget for Libreng Sakay. — DVM, GMA Integrated News