P1-B fuel subsidy released before year's end, Palace assures PUV drivers

Malacañang expressed confidence Tuesday, Oct. 26 that the government would be able distribute the P1-billion fuel subsidy it had committed to the public transport sector before the end of the year.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (Photo from Harry Roque's Facebook)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had this to say in response to the sector's clamor for assistance amid the continuously increasing prices of pump fuel.

"Nagpapasalamat po ang ating Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte sa mga miyembro ng Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) para sa kanilang napapanahong aksiyon na mag-provide ng cash grants sa mga bona fide at qualified public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers (Our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is thankful for the timely action of the members of the DBCC in providing cash grants to bona fide and qualified PUV drivers)," Roque said in a virtual press conference.

"Kumpiyansa kami na maipamamahagi sa nalalabing buwan ng taon ang P1-billion fuel subsidy sa ilalim ng Pantawid Pasada Program ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), ng Department of Transportation (DOTr) kung saan ang LandBank ang magdi-distribute diretso sa cash card na inisyu sa mga drayber (We are confident that the P1-billion fuel subsidy under the LTFRB and DOTr will be distributed in the remaining months of the year via the LandBank cash card issued to the drivers)," he added.

Chaired by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) announced the 10-figure subsidy on Monday. The panel said it would benefit 178,000 PUV drivers.

"This underscores our commitment to cushion the impact of the oil price hikes to the transportation sector," Roque said.

That same day, local fuel companies announced another "big time" hike on gasoline prices, which were hiked by over P1.00 per liter. Diesel was increased by P0.45 per liter.

Roque said LTFRB officials subsequently met with counterparts from LandBank to discuss the subsidy distribution following the DBCC's announcement.

"Dagdag pa ng LTFRB, kailangan nila munang ayusin ang mga dokumento tulad ng listahan...bilang basehan ng formal fund request sa DBM ngayong linggo (The LTFRB added that it will need to fix first its documents, such as the list...which will be made the basis of its formal fund request to the DBM this week)," he further said.

Pump fuel prices have been on a steady climb the past two weeks, mainly due to the rise in world prices of petroleum.

"Hindi man po natin maiwasan ang pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina at langis ay iniibsan naman po natin ang kahirapan lalung-lalo na iyong mga naghahanapbuhay sa sektor ng transportasyon (While we can't avoid the increase in gasoline and crude prices, we will do what we can in cushioning its blow to workers of the transport sector)," the Palace mouthpiece said.

Roque earlier said that Malacañang was also studying the possibility of suspending the excise tax on fuel--a move that will instantly pull down pump prices by P8 to P10 per liter.