MANILA - A transportation official said Tuesday that Beep cards should be given to passengers for free, after President Rodrigo Duterte called for their distribution to commuters without charge amid complaints over the cost of the cards.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) road sector consultant Alberto Suansing said in an interview that after meeting with automatic fare collection system operators, they concluded that Beep cards can be given for free with no expense to passengers.
Suansing explained that the current provider of the Beep system, AF Payments, Inc. (API), refused to waive the cost of the cards because they believed they would suffer profit loss.
"Pero kami naman, palaging stance namin, tingnan namin ang kabuuan ng hanapbuhay na 'yan," he told TeleRadyo.
(But for us, our stance is always to look at that industry's bigger picture.)
"Dapat libre. Hindi 'yung gobyerno... wala kaming budget pa diyan. Sa tingin namin, pwede ibigay ng libre."
(It should be free. The government should not pay for it. For us, they can be given for free.)
Duterte in a public briefing on Monday said he will talk to Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade on the distribution of Beep cards without charge.
"Card lang naman 'yan, ibigay na 'yan libre. Bakit pabayaran pa 'yan, we are wasting so many billions to corruption. Tapos 'yan hindi mabigay?" he stressed.
(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?)
DOTr earlier suspended the mandatory use of Beep cards, citing the refusal of API to remove the cost of the cards "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.
The government earlier ordered EDSA bus operators to shift to the cashless payment system for fares to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 among passengers.
Beep cards are being used in the country’s light railway systems and in some modern jeepneys.