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LEE: RESTORE LIBRENG SAKAY, LICENSE PLATES BUDGET

AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee called on his colleagues in Congress to grant the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) request for a P12 billion budget to continue the Libreng Sakay program, and P6.6 billion to address the backlog in releasing plate numbers.

During the DOTr’s budget briefing, Lee noted that despite the 121.5% increase in their proposed budget, certain programs of the agency that were included in the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) were no longer in the proposed 2023 budget.     

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said they requested for P12 billion for programs such as the Libreng Sakay, a component of the service-contracting program of DOTr, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) did not include such funding.

“For this year, nag-increase ang inyong proposed budget by 121%. Despite this, napansin ko na maraming naalis from 2022 GAA, yung budget for active transport, yung transition for transport workers, at yung isa dito yung Libreng Sakay katulad ng sa EDSA carousel,” Lee said.

“During this time na may pandemic pa rin, na sobrang taas ng presyo ng gasolina, bakit inalis itong Libreng Sakay? Without such program, ano yung alternative na naisip ng DOTr for this? Para makatulong naman tayo sa mobility at maibsan ang paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan,” Lee added.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said they requested for P12 billion for programs such as the Libreng Sakay, a component of the service-contracting program of DOTr, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) did not include such funding.

It was stated in the budget briefing that since Libreng Sakay is a non-recurring item, the allocation was scrapped despite it’s high-impact and benefit to the public.

Lee then appealed to grant the requested budget of DOTr for Libreng Sakay.

“At this point, I urge my colleagues that we reconsider granting the DOTr the P12 billion budget dahil malaking tulong ito sa ating commuting public. Sabi nga mismo ng DOTr, walang katumbas ang benepisyo nito. Hindi ito dapat alisin,” Lee reiterated.

The motion was duly noted by the Chair, saying it will be addressed during the period of amendments.

The lawmaker from Sorsogon then proceeded in inquiring about the backlogs of Land Transportation Office (LTO) in releasing plate numbers.

“May I be clarified kung nandito ba sa NEP (National Expenditure Program) yung budget na sinasabing kailangan ng LTO to address the backlog in plate numbers? I believe that with the able leadership of Asec. (Teofilo) Guadiz, masosolusyunan na itong backlog na ito,” Lee stated.

Responding to Lee, LTO Chief Guadiz said: “Ang binigay lang po sa’min sa NEP namin is 4.7 billion to address the issue of backlog. Unfortunately, what we need here to update the plates would be 6.6 billion. We would be very happy to have that at least para ma-address man lang namin yung 70-80 percent of the backlog at least for this year.”

In an interview with the media, Lee said addressing the backlog in releasing plate numbers will also help in fighting crimes, such as kidnapping.

Noting LTO’s plea, Lee moved to grant the said request, “Dahil ang problema natin sa plate numbers ay since 2015 pa, I also move na maibigay nang buo ang 6.6 billion na budget para matapos na ng LTO ang backlog sa plate numbers.”

In an interview with the media, Lee said addressing the backlog in releasing plate numbers will also help in fighting crimes, such as kidnapping.

“Ngayon na may mga nare-report na kidnapping cases, malaking tulong dito ang pag-address sa backlog sa plate numbers, na tatlong administrasyon na nating problema,” Lee said.

“Ang ganitong mga proyekto, ang Libreng Sakay, at paglalabas na ng mga plate numbers ay kailangang hanapan ng pondo, dapat itong gawing priority. Ako, actively, kakausapin ko ang mga kasamahan ko sa Kongreso na suportahan ako sa inisyatibang ito. I believe that while we are planning for the long-term, we should be doing short-term solutions,” Lee added.

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