MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Pangilinan wants the coverage of the government’s fuel subsidy beneficiaries to be expanded next year once the prices of petroleum products increase anew.
During the Senate deliberation on the 2022 budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Pangilinan proposed that a special provision be added to the General Appropriations Bill for 2022.
Pangilinan said this will extend the coverage of the Pantawid Pasada Program to public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers once the prices of crude oil in the world market go up to USD 80 per barrel.
“It can or may include taxi, tricycle drivers, ride-hailing, delivery services considering that we are still in a state of emergency,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said the fuel subsidy is only limited to legitimate public utility jeepney franchise grantees.
Senator Grace Poe who sponsored the DOTr’s budget agreed to Pangilinan’s proposal.
The DOTr’s proposed 2022 budget for its fuel subsidy program is at Php5-billion.
“The aim of this Php5 billion is for 365,000 units of PUV to be subsidized at 13,500 per unit. But if we can expand the program so that those in the other types of PUV can be covered that would certainly be welcome if we can find funding for that,” Poe said.
Transport group, Pasang Masda, welcomed this Senate initiative.
“Maganda na yung may mga initiative na ganito na talagang mayroon silang mga magandang programa para sa mga drivers ng pampublikong sasakyan. Ako’y nagpapasalamat dito,” said Pasang Masda president Obet Martin.
Martin, however, said drivers are still awaiting the fuel subsidy for this year.
He also called on Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Martin Delgra regarding the implementation of fuel discounts in select gasoline stations.
“Ang ceiling na hinihingi namin P3 hanggang P5 kung makakaya nila hanggang sa mataas lang ang presyo ng petroleum products. Eh ngayon nga medyo bumababa na, eh hindi pa rin namin nararamdaman ‘to,” Martin said.
The group also hopes that the government’s free ride project will continue in 2022.
The DOTr has allotted around Php10-billion budget for the service contracting program for 2022.
Poe said the Senate Committee on Public Services will look closely at the transportation department’s implementation of its programs to ensure that PUV drivers are well-protected. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)