In March 1977, the Philippines took a significant step towards infrastructure development with the issuance of Presidential Decree No. 1112, better known as the “Toll Operation Decree.” This decree paved the way for the establishment of toll facilities on public improvements as well as the creation of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB). Consequently, the TRB was tasked to regulate and supervise the construction, operation, and maintenance of the toll facilities especially in expressways, ensuring a balance between investor returns and the interests of toll users.
The TRB was established to address the financial needs of the government’s development projects. By allowing the involvement of the private sector, the government taps into private sector resources, securing alternative financing for essential infrastructure projects and effectively reducing the government’s reliance on traditional domestic and foreign borrowings. In this guide, we took a closer look at the Toll Regulatory Board and everything it offers.
What is TRB
TRB stands for the Toll Regulatory Board. It is a regulatory body consisting of officials from the National Economic and Development Authority, Public Highways, and Finance. The board was created to oversee the construction, operation, and maintenance of toll facilities, ensuring a balance between investor returns and the interests of toll users.
The TRB was created by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1112. In 2002, the Executive Order No. 133 attached the TRB to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), formerly known as Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). It was later attached to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), before it was returned to the DOTC by virtue of Executive Order No. 686 in 2007. To date, the TRB remains as an attached agency under the DOTr.
Evolution of the TRB
Since its inception, the TRB has played a crucial role in balancing the interests of private investors and the public. Throughout its history, the TRB has shown resilience and adaptability. Initially composed of key government officials, including the Deputy Director-General for Program and Projects of the National Economic and Development Authority as Chairman, the TRB underwent organizational changes over the years.
These changes—from changes in administration, transfers between government departments, and adjustments to its budgetary structure—have not deterred the board from its mission. It simply reflected the dynamic nature of the board’s composition, which allowed it to adapt to the evolving landscape of infrastructure development.
Some amendments even led to the creation of a Technical Staff which later empowered the TRB to fulfill its responsibilities effectively, ensuring the construction and maintenance of toll facilities aligned with quality standards. Over the years, TRB experienced shifts between the Office of the President and DOTr as well, adjusting its role and administration.
TRB is committed to regulating toll road facilities efficiently, ensuring fair toll rates through transparent processes, and promoting the welfare of its employees.
TRB commits to constructing a network of toll facilities that offer convenient travel, safety, and reliability, aligned with toll rates paid by the public. It emphasizes continuous improvement and compliance with legal requirements.
As a DOTr-attached agency, the TRB’s main mandate is to closely oversees toll facility construction, operation, and maintenance, ensuring fair toll rates for users. Its role is vital in balancing private investors’ interests and safeguarding the public’s concerns.
Key Powers and Duties
Aside from the mandate mentioned above, the TRB was also bestowed with substantial powers and duties outlined in the Toll Operation Decree.
Some of its most notable functions include:
Construction and Operation
TRB, with the President’s approval, can enter contracts for the construction, operation, and maintenance of toll facilities like highways and bridges.
Setting Toll Rates
The board determines toll rates, with a transparent consultation process, and can approve or disapprove rate increase petitions.
TRB grants authority to operate toll facilities, issues Toll Operation Certificates, and ensures compliance with conditions, preventing unauthorized transfers or leases.
TRB can acquire private property for public use, following existing laws.
In times of emergency, the President can close or take over toll facilities, ensuring public safety.
Programs and Services
As an agency, the TRB offers the following programs and services to the public:
- Toll operation and maintenance (O & M) regulatory services
- Issuance of toll regulations and policies
- Setting of toll O & M guidelines, regulations and policies
- Evaluation of proposed toll road projects
- Issuance of Toll Operation Certificates (TOCs) and Toll Operation Agreements (TOAs)
- Supervision of toll road facilities’ construction
- Monitoring of toll operation and maintenance
- Toll rate regulatory services
- Conduct of hearings for toll rates setting and adjustments
- Setting of toll rates
- Monitoring of toll rates compliance
- Conduct of economic financial studies
- Conduct of analytical review of financial reports
- Right-of-way acquisition services
- Initiation and acquisition of right-of-way for toll road projects
Oversight and Regulations
At the heart of the TRB’s mission is the commitment to transparent toll rate decisions. To maintain this transparency, the TRB strictly prohibits the issuance of guarantees, collateral, or securities related to toll operators’ financing. This ensures that financial dealings are clear, free from undue influences, and focused on the best interests of both investors and the public.
Publication of Rates
In an attempt to maintain transparency in governance, the TRB also ensures that all changes involving the toll rates undergo a meticulous process. Before implementation, these rates are published in a newspaper, providing commuters and stakeholders with a comprehensive understanding of the upcoming changes. This practice ensures that toll payers are well-informed, fostering a sense of fairness in the toll collection process.
The Toll Operation Decree, the guiding document for toll operations, also outlines specific conditions under which government vehicles on official business are exempt from toll fees. This exemption recognizes the unique circumstances of official government travel and ensures that those serving the public interest are not burdened by toll charges during their official duties.
The operational heartbeat of the TRB relies on a sustainable financial model. Operational expenses are covered by the fees collected from toll operators. Moreover, an annual budget is allocated from government funds, ensuring that the TRB has the necessary resources to fulfill its regulatory duties. This financial structure not only supports the day-to-day operations of the TRB but also underscores the importance of a self-sustaining toll regulatory system.
Vision for the Future
Looking ahead, the TRB envisions itself as a reputable toll road regulator by 2030. The vision emphasizes balancing stakeholder interests, ensuring convenient travel, and maintaining world-class toll facilities. The commitment to continuous improvement, compliance with legal requirements, and responsiveness to stakeholders underpin the TRB’s quality policy.
As a regulatory body, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has been a steadfast guardian of fairness, transparency, and fiscal responsibility. It is also instrumental in steering the course of Philippine infrastructure development. From its establishment in response to the financial needs of government projects to its present role in promoting safe, reliable, and convenient travel, the TRB remains a key player that keeps the toll system in check while shaping the nation’s progress. The board’s journey also reflects not only its commitment to regulatory excellence, but also its ability to adapt and contribute to the evolving landscape of essential infrastructure development.