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Velasco urges DoTr to extend RFID installation deadline to March 2021



House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday urged the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to further extend the deadline of RFID stickers installation on vehicles using the tollways until 31 March 2021.

Velasco made the call as complaints continue to mount as gridlock becomes a daily problem of motorists using expressways as toll operators impose full cashless system.

“At the rate things are going, I don’t think all 6.1 million registered vehicles in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and CALABARZON will be provided with RFID stickers by 11 January 2021,” said Velasco.

Velasco asked the DOTr to take the pandemic into consideration as people are required to stay at home and may have hindered many motorists to apply for an RFID sticker.

“It would be more practicable if the deadline is further extended to March 31, 2021 to give all our motorists enough time to secure the stickers for the cashless payment system given that we are still in a pandemic where movement of people is limited,” he said.

The Marinduque congressman said it is crucial for the concerned agencies to ensure the feasibility of the cashless system in the amount of time given to vehicle owners as it was learned during one House hearing that the RFID Reader Equipment Machines of the North Luzon Expressway have yet to be upgraded.

“Instead, the implementation on 1 December looked like a dry-run. This defeats the purpose of having our tollways becoming efficient in going cashless,” he said.

House transportation committee vice-chairman Edgar Sarmiento earlier disclosed that he had asked Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to “push back” the implementation of the system as he claimed that it would take at least one and a half years to install RFID stickers to more than 12 million registered vehicles in the Philippines.

He noted that only three million registered vehicles have RFID stickers so far.

In a committee’s motu-proprio hearing last 25 November in anticipation of the problems arising from the implementation of the cashless payment scheme at tollways, Sarmiento noted that Thailand and Indonesia took a year and a half on average to be fully cashless.

“In comparison, it’s been barely five months from the issuance of the DOTr’s Department Order 2020-012 since the implementation of cashless payment,” Sarmiento pointed out.