PRESIDENT Duterte wants the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to give away free Beep cards to the riding public to help ease the financial concerns experienced by commuters.
Duterte, in his weekly public address on Monday night, said he would rather spend public funds to procure the Beep cards than lose billions of pesos to corruption. The Beep card is a mode of cashless payment used in public transportations being used in the DOTr’s EDSA Busway scheme and in the three rail system transports.
“Kaya iyang card na ‘yan, card lang naman ‘yan, ibigay na ‘yan libre. Bakit pabayaran pa ‘yan? We have been wasting so many billions to corruption tapos hindi ‘yan, hindi mo maibigay? (That’s why that card, it’s just a card, give it for free. Why do you need to pay for it? We have been wasting so many billions to corruption and yet you cannot give that away),” Duterte said.
“I (will) suggest that we find the money and give it to the public for free to avoid chaos and to ensure that everyone has one,” he added.
He said many Filipino commuters were unprepared for the use of the Beep cards either because they lack the information about it or had no extra cash to purchase it in advance.
He clarified that only the card would be given out for free but commuters would still need to load the cards in advance to be able to use it.
The Beep card provided by AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) and which is used the EDSA bus loop route costs P80 each, without load. AFPI has said that the amount cover the expenses on logistics, production, initialization, printing and distribution.
Hours after the President’s statement, Tugade rejected the offer of AFPI to give away 125,000 Beep cards to commuters “who need it” as a compromise to lift the suspension of the “No Beep Card, No Ride” policy which the DOTr imposed effective Monday, October 5.
Tugade said he rejected the AFPI’s because it was not enough to address the concerns of the over a million commuters who have to shift to digital payments.
“We did not accept it, I did not accept that yesterday,” he said.
Tugade said the policy will remain suspended for five days, during which AFPI should decide whether or not to grant the government’s request to give away the Beep cards for free.
Tugade said he has directed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to discuss with public transport operators the possibility of getting another Beep card service provide who can give to public commuters for free.
Tugade said the DOTr has yet to decide on AFPI’s proposal to upgrade the Beep Card system to a QR Code Ticketing system. “We note their offer, but we will decide on this in due time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has issued Resolution 77 that supports the continued pilot study of motorcycle taxis pending legislation.
The endorsement was issued on the request of local government units in Metro Manila.
The IATF last week said that it is looking at increasing the number of public transportation plying on the streets as the economy gradually opens to serve more commuters. – With Myla Iglesias and Noel Talacay