OVP sets aside P32.5 million from proposed 2023 budget for ''Libreng Sakay''
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) on Wednesday was able to designate P32.5 million out of its total proposed budget for 2023 for its “Libreng Sakay” program.
During the House committee on appropriations hearing, the OVP presented their P2.5 billion budget proposal where P32.5 was allotted for their free bus ride program and satellite offices.
This allocation was placed under a transportation capital outlay.
The hearing ended without lawmakers asking Vice President Sara Duterte any questions as House Minority Leader Rep. Marcelino Libanan moved to have the interpellation during the plenary.
Duterte expressed her gratitude to the panel.
“Thank you for your support for the programs of the Office of the Vice President. If there is anything we can do to help you, please let us know. We are willing to collaborate in helping our fellow Filipinos,” she said.
In a separate House hearing on Tuesday the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said that they requested P12 billion for their “Libreng Sakay” program but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) did not include it in their approved budget proposal.
In a statement, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the department recognizes ''that budget allocation for 'Libreng Sakay' is within the prerogative of DBM (Department of Budget and Management) in accordance with government's fiscal priorities and with due approval from Congress.''
Bautista said ''while the 'Libreng Sakay' program provided much appreciated transport relief during the pandemic, its long-term viability is untenable considering the constraints to the national budget.''
But Bautista said DOTr is ''more than willing to collaborate with the OVP on 'Libreng Sakay' as we did several weeks back, dedicating five OVP buses for 'Libreng Sakay' in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.''
Under the Bayanihan Recover as One Act, the free ride program was initiated by the DoTr in 2020 to give relief to commuters and to provide incentives for drivers of public utility vehicles. Jaspearl Tan/DMS