MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said Beep cards should be given to EDSA bus passengers for free, amid complaints over the cost of the cards.
"Card lang naman 'yan, ibigay na 'yan libre. Bakit pabayaran pa 'yan, we are wasting so many billions to corruption. Tapos 'yan hindi mabigay?" Duterte said in a public briefing aired late Monday.
(That's just a card, that should be free. Why should that be paid for, when we are wasting so many billions on corruption. And that can't be for free?)
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) earlier suspended the mandatory use of Beep cards, citing the refusal of AF Payments, Inc., the provider of the automatic fare collection system (AFCS) at the EDSA Busway, to waive the cost of the beep card "despite consistent pleas made by the government."
The Beep card operator later said it will be issuing 125,000 free cards to “people in need” and will be setting up a QR code ticketing system for cashless payments.
Duterte said he will talk to Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade on distribution of Beep cards to passengers without charge.
"I will raise with him the possibility of giving it free," he said.
The government earlier ordered EDSA bus operators to shift to a cashless payment system for fares to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 among passengers.
Before the suspension, use of the Beep cards became mandatory on Oct. 1 caught many commuters unaware, leading to chaotic lines at many bus stations. Poor commuters also said that they could not afford the P80 cost of the cards.
Beep cards are being used in the country’s light railway systems and in some modern jeepneys.