The Truth About Libreng Sakay

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Provincial buses expected to arrive during the first day of the resumption of operations of bus are nowhere in sight, during the first day of the resumption of provincial operations at the Philippine Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) in ParaƱaque City. ROY DOMINGO

First off, lemme tell you– i have nothing but praises for our government in conceiving this libreng sakay. For commuters, this is wonderful. Getting on that EDSA Carousel saves you a lot of money for those using EDSA to go to work. Yes, it would probably give you extra twenty to thirty minutes of waiting time, and it would be shit if this happens to you while there’s heavy rain and you’re out there lining up, but hey, that extra money saved means more food for people.

Let me disabuse your minds and say there is nothing “free” about this “libreng sakay.” Government still pays those private bus companies for their services. The fact is, the government is behind its payments and not a few bus operators are kinda pissed off because of these late arrears. I mean, come on. These people would not risk their monies and invest in a business whereby they’ll take a hit first just to save government’s ass.

We lack the infrastructure and the necessary public utility vehicles to service the growing ride demands. We don’t see it because we get our rides anyway, right? But those long lines that you experience shows you the real deal.

Now, since these “free rides” are not precisely free, what’s wrong with it? Well, first off, we are paying for those free rides out of our own pockets. DOTR gets the funds from the public coffers. We, the public, do not see where these funds go. Of course, there is a public accounting, but the government simply doesn’t want us to see and read about them. Why?

Since we are paying for them anyway, we have the right to look into the books and know how much the government is paying for these libreng sakays. Why? Because we don’t know if there are bus firms out there being paid for what and for what conditions.

Do we pay for these buses even if they don’t have passengers? There must be some time period whereby these buses do not get commuters. Does that come with the conditions for operating these public buses?

Second, if this EDSA carousel is very effective, why not institutionalize it? That’s the thing. The government does not want to enter into this business because the government failed in its previous experiment with the Metro Love bus during the Marcos senior years. Remember those air-conditioned Metro love buses? The government tried but failed in this business, and private sector firms had to bail the government out by buying its assets, including those franchise routes.

This explains why right now, the government makes its cake, and it eats it too. The thing is, this scheme has its financial limits and some say, it is nearing the precipice. I heard that even the Office of the Vice president of the Philippines wants its presence felt by embarking on its own libreng sakay. The question is—where would the OVP get its monies for this?

Haist. GOvernment is dipping its fingers in a previously failed experiment without a single research.

 

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