While it recognized the plight of all public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers amid the pandemic and the hike in fuel prices, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said the government’s fuel subsidy program is currently allocated for jeepney drivers only.
“Ang sinusunod at ipinapatupad po natin sa ngayon ay ang provisions ng TRAIN law kung saan specific na nakalagay na ang mabibigyan ng fuel subsidy ay PUJ (public utility jeepney) franchise grantees (What we are following and implementing now are the provisions of the TRAIN law which specifically states that the fuel subsidy is for PUJ franchise grantees),” LTFRB National Capital Region (NCR) Director Zona Tamayo said in a virtual public briefing on Thursday, Nov. 25.
Tamayo cited Section 82 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law which states that only qualified jeepney franchise holders are entitled to fuel vouchers to cope with the increasing prices of fuel.
However, Tamayo emphasized that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been pushing to include drivers of others modes of public transport in the subsidy program as they are also affected by the increase in pump prices.
“Naiintindihan natin na ang presyo ng gasolina at kurudo ay hindi lang naman mga jeepney drivers ang naaapektuhan kundi pati na ang iba’t ibang modes of public transport kagaya ng taxi, UV Express at mga bus (We understand that jeepney drivers are not the only ones affected by the increasing fuel prices but also drivers of other modes of public transport such as taxis, UV Express, and buses),” Tamayo explained.
“Nagkaroon na rin tayo ng proposal during the DOTr Senate Hearing na isulong din na mabigyan ng subsidy ang iba pang modes of public transport (We already submitted a proposal during the DOTr Senate Hearing to extend the subsidy to other modes of public transport),” she added.
Should the proposal be approved, Tamayo said the actual amount of the assistance to be distributed will be based on the allotted budget and the number of target beneficiaries.
The LTFRB rolled out on Wednesday, Nov. 24, its Pantawid Pasada Fuel Program and began the distribution of the P1 billion fuel subsidy to about 136,000 PUJ drivers nationwide.
Beneficiaries will each receive a one-time Pantawid Fuel Cash Card containing P7,200 as fuel subsidy for this year.
The cash assistance for PUJs, Tamayo noted, may only be used for fuel purchases in participating petroleum retail outlets or gas stations as the amount cannot be withdrawn and utilized for other purposes.
The fuel cards processed by the Land Bank of the Philippines will indicate the complete name of the franchise holder, plate number of PUJ, region where the franchise was registered, and the card number to avoid misuse.