President Rodrigo Duterte is against the payment of initial fees for stored value beep cards, Malacañang said Monday.
This, after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) suspended the mandatory use of beep cards AF Payments Inc. (AFPI), the consortium composed of conglomerates Ayala Group and First Pacific Group, after it refused to waive the PHP80 cost of the cards on top of the fare load.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte felt bad upon hearing the news since it would be an additional burden for those struggling to survive amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Ang naging damdamin ni Presidente ay tutol din siya sa binabayaran na beep card at marahil po isa ito sa dahilan kung bakit sinuspindi muna iyong paniningil para sa beep card. (The President was against the charges for the beep card and it’s possibly one of the decisions why the initial fees for beep cards were suspended),” Roque said in a press briefing from Boracay.
He said Duterte is aware that many Filipinos only had enough money to get by.
“Nahabag po talaga ang Presidente doon sa isang balita na maraming mga naghihirap nating mga kababayan ang nagulat dahil ang pera nila ay sapat lamang sa pamasahe at pagkain para sa araw na iyon (The President really felt bad after he heard the news that people were shocked because they only had enough money for their fare and food for that day),” he added.
Asked for the possibility that the government would shoulder the cost of initial fees for stored value beep cards, Roque said the matter is already being reviewed by the DOTr.
Roque, however, pointed out that the suspension of the use of beep cards means that the government listens to the people.
“Itong pagsuspinde ng gamit ng beep card altogether, ay patunay na nakikinig ang gobyerno sa taumbayan (The suspension of the use of beep cards means that the government is listening to the public),” he said.
He said the government’s policies show that people’s concerns are its top priority.
“Hindi po natin made-deny na may puso naman po itong administrasyon na ito (We cannot deny that this administration has a heart for the people),” he said.
Earlier, Transport Secretary Art Tugade called on AFPI to give the beep cards for free to commuters.
Tugade also wanted commuters to have the option to load the beep card with the amount they need for the fare.
The DOTr said the beep payment system was implemented for passengers on Edsa Busway for its interconnectivity with Metro Manila trains. (PNA)