FOLLOWING the expiration of the validity of Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 law on June 30, 2021, the Libreng Sakay program in Davao Region, which offers free rides for workers amid pandemic, is temporarily suspended.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Davao Region (LTFRB-Davao) Director Nonito Llanos III told SunStar Davao in a phone interview on Thursday, July 1, that the suspension of the free ride took effect the day after the law lapsed.
Llanos said the program was affected by the expiration of the Bayanihan 2 law since it is where their funding for the Libreng Sakay Program is being sourced.
LTFRB-Davao started deploying free bus rides for authorized persons outside residences (Apor), including medical frontliners, in the first week of May this year.
As of June 30, around 60,000 passengers were catered by the buses, which operated 24 hours daily before it was suspended.
Llanos said the national LTFRB is currently working on additional funding for the resumption of the program.
“Actually, mao na ginapaningkamutan sa central office, especially sa DOTr (Department of Transportation), kay naa naka-appropriate sa (Actually, that what we are working on in the central office, especially the DOTr, because it’s already being appropriated in the) General Appropriations Act na (worth) P3 billion,” he said, adding that they are waiting for the “go signal” from the national office in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the immediate release of the funding.
He admitted that the buses and the government’s free ride program helped many frontliners make their daily expenses lighter.
“We know for the fact that healthcare workers are the most vulnerable when you talk about their jobs. Ila ginaatubang kay dili dali. (What they are facing is not easy.) Knowing the current Covid-19 cases in the region nga bulging ang cases (that cases are bulging),” Llanos said.
He added, “We also know that lisod isakay labi na nga nihit ang sakyanan (it is not easy to get a ride especially that vehicles are scarce) because it is not 100 percent, when we talk about the presence of public utility vehicles on the roads due to the pandemic.”
The official also said they cannot blame the operators and drivers if they do not operate, especially during curfew hours due to the limited number of passengers on the streets.
As of now, he said local governments have not yet coordinated with them on the possibility of augmenting free rides.
In Davao City, Llanos said there is also no word from the City Government if they will let the Interim Bus System (IBS) operate for 24 hours.
IBS, currently operating in two routes — C.P. Garcia Highway and Catalunan Grande, operates from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Dili kaayo siya magiging [viable] (It is not really that viable) for healthcare workers kay dili ing-ana ka daghan ang ridership (because ridership is not that many),” he said.