SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go urged concerned agencies, particularly the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), to immediately address the problems with the implementation of electronic toll collection on expressways in greater Metro Manila.
In an interview right after attending the launch of the Malasakit Center in Marikina City, Go said that while the issue is currently being investigated, the DOTr, TRB’s mother agency, must address and resolve the inconvenience this issue has caused to the public as soon as possible.
“Meron na po silang ginagawang imbestigasyon at pamamaraan para maisaayos po ang problema d’yan sa trapik na dulot ng RFID,” said Go, referring to the radio frequency identification (RFID) tags needed for electronic toll collection on expressways.
“So, nananawagan po ako sa DOTr at sa TRB na ayusin n’yo na po. Trabaho n’yong ayusin ang problemang ‘yan at ‘wag ipasa sa publiko ang trapik,” he added.
Go also said that defective RFID tags on some vehicles, such as trucks, leads to a domino effect on the traffic situation — frustrating many motorists.
He urged DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to hold accountable those who are responsible for the problem or negligent in addressing these issues.
“Kay Secretary Tugade, nakikiusap po ako sa inyo, kung kailangang suspindihin mo po ang mga may kasalanan, ‘yung mga concessionaire, suspindihin n’yo na po,” he said.
Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, head of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation, recently warned the TRB that he would ask President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the 2021 budget of the agency if it would not fix the mess surrounding the RFID tags needed for electronic toll collection on expressways.
In response, Go affirmed that Duterte has the prerogative to veto the 2021 budget of the TRB if it fails to fix the issue which has caused discomfort among motorists.
“Karapatan po n’ya ‘yan kung may gusto siyang i-veto, pero ‘di sya pwedeng magdagdag. Pwede po n’ya burahin,” said Go.
He explained that while the President cannot introduce new items or bring back items in the approved budget, he has the power to veto particular line items.
“Pero isa rin po ang ating Pangulo sa nagmamadali na maipasa ang budget. Kapag ipinasa na po ng both house leaders (sa Office of the President), aaralin at mapipirmahan na po ito ng Pangulo bago sumapit ang 2021,” he added.
Downplaying the possibility of Duterte vetoing the budget, Go said the President himself wants the budget to be enacted as soon as possible to address the COVID-19 problem in the country. He, however, stressed that Duterte still has the prerogative to do so.
“Mismong ang Pangulo ang nagmamadali na magkaroon tayo ng budget sa January 1, budget para labanan ang COVID-19, para sa medical equipment, vaccine. Kaya s’ya nanawagan, sabi niya ‘If you can’t solve it, I will solve that for you’. So, s’ya mismo ang nagmamadali na ma-approve ang budget,” Go said.
“Still, prerogative po ng ating Pangulo ‘yan kung ibe-veto n’ya ‘yung TRB (budget). Sa pagkaalam ko, may ginagawa nang paraan ang DOTr in which kasama ang TRB,” he added.