President Rodrigo Duterte meets with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on Dec. 16, 2020. | KARL NORMAN ALONZO/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night hit Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) officials and asked them to resign over problems in the implementation of the cashless payment scheme in tollways.

Duterte said the radio-frequency identification (RFID) system should have undergone a thorough trial run to prevent traffic at the toll gates.

“Iyong pagbasa ng reflectorized stickers, hindi ito pinag-aralan… the system was not tested thoroughly, which would translate into something like an incompetence and lahat na,” the president said in a meeting with Cabinet members.

Duterte pointed the finger at the system’s regulators, whom he labeled as “incompetent people.”

“It’s flawed, and the people behind this are really incompetent. Ang number one sana ang regulator hindi pumayag na they would put up a new innovation in the flow of traffic sa mga [NLEX] pati iba pa, at tinignan sana nila kung ano ang mga glitches. Hindi nila ginawa ‘yon,” he said.

“If you cannot perform what is expected of you, then the best that you can do for decency sake, resign, and do not wait to be fired because masakit iyan, mapahiya ka,” he added.

The cashless toll payment collection has caused traffic congestion at toll gates, which prompted the city government of Valenzuela to temporarily suspend NLEX Corporation’s business permit.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has apologized for the RFID mess.

“I express my apologies to the users of the tollways, to the local government, for the inconvenience whatever is caused,” he said.

“Be assured that the inconveniences caused are not designed, are not intended…what is happening now is what we call birthing experience. Pero aayusin po namin ‘yan,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro