Senator Risa Hontiveros said that the fuel subsidy to be distributed under the Pantawid Pasada Program will not be enough to keep the transport system running as the successive increases in oil prices are seen to affect the sector for a prolonged period.
“The increase in the budget for Pantawid Pasada to cover more drivers is a step in the right direction, but it really does not go far enough,” Hontiveros said Monday, March 14.
“[The] P6,500 [subsidy] will help make ends meet for drivers only for a little over a month, but this international energy crisis looks like it will last far longer than just a month. What will happen after a month?” she added.
Hontiveros made the statement after the Department of Energy announced that it will double its budget for the program to P5B from the initial P2.5B to cushion the soaring fuel prices.
However, the senator said the successive hike in pump prices will soon force public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers to just halt their trips.
According to Hontiveros, the government should shift to a new direction to help the transport sector in the long run, such as an expanded service contracting program.
Under service contracting, Hontiveros said drivers and operators would be paid in exchange for reliable and affordable services for the riding public–even if the government does not grant them a large enough fare adjustment in the face of these extraordinary fuel prices.
Hontiveros also emphasized that should the excise tax on fuels not be removed, its revenues should immediately be earmarked to improve the public transport system, beginning with the service contracting program.
She likewise added that the oil price stabilization fund will no longer need to be revived as the service contracting mechanism, coupled with fare adjustments, can be made bigger when fuel costs are high and smaller when fuel is more affordable.