The government will be granting fuel subsidies worth P1 billion to 178,000 drivers of public utility vehicles to offset the rising prices of fuel and oil products up to the end of the year.
The Department of Transportation, through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), said amounts allocated in the TRAIN Law will be distributed as cash grants to bonafide public utility vehicle drivers for the remaining months of this year.
The funds will be disbursed through the Land Bank of the Philippines, straight into cash cards issued to the drivers.
The release of fuel subsidies will coincide with efforts by the Transportation Department to get the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to approve a significant increase in the passenger capacity of public transportation as Metro Manila and other parts of the country are place under more relaxed COVID-19 quarantine levels.
The department said the LTFRB earlier disbursed more than P4.7 billion for the government’s service contracting program under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
The LTFRB said total payout to public jeepney drivers and operators amounted to P1.91 billion as of June 30, while it released P2.29 billion between Sept. 13 and Oct. 23, 2021.
The government program has given free rides to 31.65 million as of October.
The interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee—composed of the heads of the Finance and Budget and Management departments and the National Economic and Development Authority—on Monday expressed full support to the transportation sector.
The committee said the funds would be charged against the FY 2021 unprogrammed appropriations under the support for infrastructure projects and social programs.
The Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection on Monday welcomed the P1 billion worth of fuel subsidies to PUV drivers amid the rising costs of fuel products.
“That’s what drivers need now,” said Ariel Inton, LSP president.
Senator Christopher Go said strategic sectors like public transport, and food deliveries should be given fuel discounts and subsidies as rising oil prices are a burden to the public (see related story – Editors).
He urged the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation, among other concerned agencies, to study the possibility of offering them all forms of assistance.
“The continuing increase in oil prices in the world market is an added burden to Filipinos who have been suffering from the pandemic,” Go said.
Go also raised the possibility of amending pertinent laws to allow the temporary suspension of fuel excise taxes when world oil prices soar.