LTFRB clarifies only PUJ drivers will benefit from ₱1B in cash aid from gov’t

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
totalITemsFound:
maxPaginationLinks: 10
maxPossiblePages:
startIndex:
endIndex:

(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26) — Not all public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers affected by the oil price hikes will be given financial assistance by government, authorities said Tuesday. Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra clarified that only qualified Public Utility Jeepney drivers are set to receive fuel subsidies.

"If I may put that into the context of the fuel subsidy that was approved by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) which was pursuant to the TRAIN law and I refer to section 82 of the law. Nakalagay po doon kung sino yung benepisyaryo ng subsidy and very specific po na PUJ (public utility jeepney) ang mode of transport who will benefit in the fuel subsidy that would be given," he said in an online media briefing.

[Translation: If I may put that into the context of the fuel subsidy that was approved by the Development Budget Coordination Committee which was pursuant to the TRAIN law and I refer to section 82 of the law. It says there who are qualified to benefit from the subsidy and it specifies PUJ as the mode of transport who will benefit in the fuel subsidy that would be given.]

The DBCC said on Monday it would distribute P1 billion in cash grants to some 178,000 PUV drivers to mitigate the impact of higher fuel costs. However, Delgra said the total number of beneficiaries may still change after they validate and collate the list of qualified PUV drivers nationwide. The LTFRB has yet to specify the exact amount to be given, since the list is expected to be finalized by this week.

RELATED: Govt to release ₱1B in cash aid for PUV drivers, mulls temporary fuel excise tax suspension

Delgra said they met with Landbank of the Philippines Tuesday morning to discuss the process of distribution. But based on early talks, the initial consensus is to use the same system used in the Pantawid Pasada Program, where drivers are given cash cards.

Delgra hopes to release the funds as soon as possible, but could not yet commit a specific timeline. He said the ongoing validation of beneficiaries and process for the disbursement of funds may take some time.

“Yung timeline po is once the funds are downloaded, we would be able to immediately implement the program at mapapamahagi na yung funds na ito. But definitely it’s going to be distributed within the year,” Delgra explained.

[Translation: As for the timeline (for distribution), as soon as the funds are downloaded, we will be able to implement the program and release the funds. But it’s definitely going to be distributed within the year.]

Aid for other PUV drivers?

Other PUV drivers are also seeking some form of assistance from government amid rising fuel costs. Delgra assured bus and taxi drivers that the LTFRB and other concerned agencies are working on finding solutions to assist them.

Among them is the Transport Department’s recommendation to increase passenger capacity from 50% to 100% in PUVs. Delgra also cited the government’s existing service contracting program, where PUV drivers and operators are paid regardless of the number of passengers.

Meanwhile, the Energy Department is looking into possible fuel excise tax adjustments. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in an online briefing Tuesday that he has spoken with two major oil companies on fuel discounts for PUV drivers.

“Napag-usapan nga po namin dahil ito pong oil, ito po ay nasa pribado, so gumawa po tayo ng sistema na immediately nakiusap po tayo sa kanila na magbigay po ng diskwento. So ngayon po nagbibigay na nga po ng diskwento ang mga oil companies, hindi lang po ang Shell, hindi lang po ang Petron but practically all others are granting discount,” he said.

[Translation: We have discussed with them that fuel is with private (companies), so we immediately created a system to talk about this to make sure discounts may already be given. So now they are already giving out discounts, not just Shell and Petron, but practically all the other companies are granting discount.]

RELATED: DOE: Fuel excise tax adjustments 'on the table' with Congress amid price hikes 

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos contributed to this report.