The Libreng Sakay program that has benefitted commuters since the start of the pandemic over two years ago will continue in 2023.
Senator Sonny Angara clarified that a substantial amount was included by Congress under the 2023 General Appropriations Act to ensure the continuous implementation of the program.
As Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Finance, Angara noted that the Libreng Sakay or the PUV Service Contracting program of the Department of Transportation was initially not funded under the National Expenditure Program or the version of the 2023 national budget that was submitted by Malacañang to Congress earlier this year.
“The Libreng Sakay program has benefited hundreds of thousands of our commuters, who have been clamoring for its continuation as a way to ease their burden from the rising costs of fuel and basic goods and commodities. These days every peso counts and whatever little savings that could be realized is highly appreciated,” Angara said.
Under the 2023 General Appropriations Act, a total of P2.16 billion was allocated for the PUV Service Contracting Program, through the initiative of Congress.
This includes the P1.285 billion in programmed appropriations and another P875 million lodged under the unprogrammed appropriations.
What started out as a way to transport frontliners during the lockdowns, the Libreng Sakay program has become one of the more impactful initiatives of the government during the pandemic.
When the lockdowns were lifted, more people patronized the Libreng Sakay service, including students and other members of the labor force.
“Malaking bagay ang pagpapatuloy ng Libreng Sakay sa panahon na ito lalo na at mabigat pa din ang pasanin ng karamihan ng ating mga kababayan dahil sa patuloy na pagtaas ng mga bilihin. Dapat lang natin siguraduhin na sapat ang mga bus na maghahatid sa ating mga mananakay para hindi maipon ang mga pila at makarating ng maayos ang pasahero sa kanilang mga destinasyon,” Angara said.
For the September 1 to December 31, 2022 period of implementation of the Libreng Sakay, 628 buses were contracted to service the EDSA Busway Route that will accommodate up to 50 million passengers, based on data from the Department of Budget and Management.
Apart from EDSA in Metro Manila, the Libreng Sakay program will also benefit commuters from other parts of the country.