The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Metro Rail Transit Line-3 (MRT-3) on Wednesday extended the “Libreng Sakay” program, allowing the commuting public to enjoy the free rides until May 30.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has allowed the implementation of three government projects including the Fuel Subsidy Program (FSP) worth over P1 billion.
The move was taken to “continue helping our commuters ease their financial burden amid inflation and rising fuel prices.”
The free ride program—meant to celebrate the completion of the MRT-3’s rehabilitation and offset the rising fuel prices for the public —began on March 28, and was initially set to end on April 30.
The extension would also enable the MRT-3 management to further test the capacity and performance of its trains in servicing more than 350,000 passengers daily.
After the completion of the MRT-3’s rehabilitation, its trains are now running at a maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour—reducing the interval time between trips to 3.5 to 4 minutes from the previous 8.5 to 9 minutes.
In a resolution, the Comelec en banc granted the petition filed by the (DOTr and the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) asking to exempt from the election ban the implementation of the subsidy programs.
The petitioners also submitted the specific amounts to be disbursed during the 45-day election ban: Fuel Subsidy Program: P1,674,601,500; Public Utility Vehicle Service Contracting Program (SCP), P5,901,500,000; Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP Tsuper Iskolar Program (Social Support Component) P187,152,000; Entrepreneur Program (Social Support Component) P22,470,000; and Financing Component P1,050,721,000.
The poll body also ordered other pertinent agencies and government entities such as the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) involved in the programs, “to individually submit a specific plan for the implementation by specifically identifying the beneficiaries, as well as when and how and to provide documents or reports of previous dole-outs of similar nature.
The FSP was implemented to mitigate the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic and the increasing fuel prices on the mass transport industry.
It aims to guarantee the viability of public transportation and curb a fare increases that that would be detrimental to the commuting public.
On the other hand, the SCP is a performance-based subsidy for PUV operators and drivers in order to mitigate the effects of the decreased capacity for public transportation in response to the pandemic.
The PUVMP aims to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the road-based transport industry.