May 24, 2024

The Benguet Vegetable Truckers and Traders Association, Inc. requested for the government’s intervention in the ongoing collection of toll fees for vehicles carrying food products in some areas in Manila despite an executive order prohibiting such.

In a letter addressed to Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr., the truckers’ group President Rodolfo Bulawan stated the collection had stopped momentarily after the EO was passed, but lately it has resumed.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. issued EO 41 on Sept. 25, 2023 which prohibits local government units from collecting toll fees and charges upon all motor vehicles transporting goods or merchandise, while passing through any national roads and such other roads not constructed and funded by said LGUs.

Bulawan stated that personnel of the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau are collecting fees in cash or through GCash worth P2,000 per month per truck along the stretch of Abad Santos to Divisoria.

He said truck drivers who refused to pay are apprehended under the violation of no entry since the road is a “no passing route” according to the traffic personnel.

He also alleged the fees were not properly identified and no receipt was given.

“This is a clear act of corruption, abuse of authority and utter defiance of the President of the Philippines who issued EO 41,” he stated in the letter.

With this, Bulawan seeks the assistance of the DILG, along with the office of Sen. Raffy Tulfo, Jr. and broadcast journalist Ted Failon, who are recipients of the letter sent on Feb. 6.

He said the collection not only affects the truckers and traders group but the farmers whose products they are ferrying and consumers “who will shoulder the brunt of the unnecessary transportation expenses.”

Bulawan asked the officials to schedule a dialogue to discuss the pressing matter. 

“We know that if this will not stop now, this will go on for years to come and the amount of money being collected might even increase,” he said. 

The EO 41 stated that failure to comply with the directives under the order shall be a ground for the imposition of administrative or disciplinary sanctions against any erring public official or employee. It shall also be the mandate of the DILG to ensure that the LGUs shall act within the scope of their prescribed authorities.

The order aims to “reduce the costs of food logistics, which play a pivotal role in effectively tempering the inflation rate in the country.” – Ofelia C. Empian