Press Release
February 8, 2021

Do 'field audit' of checkpoints, purge road tong to help food byaheros

Trade, agriculture, transportation and police officials have been urged to jointly or on their own conduct a "field audit" on transportation issues that delay the movement of food products and make them more expensive.

Among the "road obstructions" that must be removed, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said, are the unnecessary "permanent and pop-up checkpoints" run by many local and national agencies.

Addressing "traffic, tong, toll" obstacles, the senator said, will make it easier and less costly for farmers in bringing their produce to market, "at a time when production costs are soaring."

"Ang mga byahero, kailangang dumaan sa maraming flying and fixed checkpoints along the countryside-to-city food routes. And sadly, many of these have become mulcting stations by people who treat these food trucks as a buffet on wheels," Recto said.

He said some checkpoints are essential for food safety, like the ones that will stop the transport of meat from hogs contaminated with ASF virus.

"Pero yung iba na pinapara ang jeep ng mag-gugulay para tingnan kung madumi ang tambutso nito, 'yan ay hindi kailangan sa panahon ng pandemya," he said, referring to "Clean Air Act" checkpoints run by the DENR and local governments.

The same is true with checkpoints whose sole purpose is to check if a vehicle has the necessary quarantine permits to transport its contents through cities and provinces, he said.

Many food trucks, Recto said, have to endure being flagged many times for traffic violations. "Minsan madumi lang ang plaka, pinagmumulta na. And the problem with apprehensions that occur in different administrative jurisdictions is that a driver who has been given a citation ticket has to settle the fine where it was issued."

"Kung taga-Samar ka at nahuli ka sa Metro Manila, kailangan mong tubusin agad para makabalik ka na sa pinanggalingan mo. Ang laking abala. The byaheros have to pass through hundreds of independent republics, local governments with their own traffic rules," Recto said.

If government is making it easier for foreign investors to come in, "then why can't we extend the same ease-of-doing-business courtesy to our very own farmers?" Recto said.

He said a "pandemic-time-only" discount in toll paid by farmers-traders at expressways should be considered "so they won't be clogging the parallel free public roads."

"Kung magiging permanente for certain type of byaheros na merong season's pass, mas mabuti," Recto said.

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