LTFRB: 1st part of aid distribution nearly complete, decision on ₱1 fare hike out this week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board is aiming to complete the first tranche of its aid distribution and to decide on the proposed ₱1 increase in minimum fare within the week as soaring fuel prices saddle public utility vehicle drivers.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, LTFRB Executive Director Tina Cassion said the board is already tackling the reimposition of a ₱10 minimum fare, months after it rejected the petition of transport groups to raise the current ₱9 fare.

"'Yung hinihingi ng transport groups sa kanilang provisional fare increase, although nadeny noong April, there was a motion for reconsideration filed before the LTFRB and the board is tackling this matter, comparing the situation on the ground vis-a-vis doon sa hinihingi nila," Cassion said. "Within the week, we are expecting a decision from the board on the MR for provisional fare."

[Translation: Regarding the appeal of transport groups for a provisional fare increase, even if it was denied in April, there was a motion for reconsideration filed before the LTFRB and the board is tackling this matter, comparing the situation on the ground vis-a-vis what they are asking for.]

In 2018, the LTFRB granted a ₱10 minimum fare when diesel prices were at ₱40 per liter, but eventually brought it back to ₱9 when world price of diesel went down a few months after. Now that oil companies have been selling gasoline and diesel for more than double the price in 2018, transport groups would be grateful if they will be granted more than a ₱1 increase.

A final hearing on a separate petition seeking as much as ₱6 fare hike has also been slated near the end of the month, Cassion said.

"Kahit papaano makakatulong na rin. Sana hindi lang po piso, kasi ang itinaas nitong taon na ito, napakahirap pa rin," said Manibela Chairman Mar Valbuena, noting that the fuel subsidy would only last them around eight days. "Pero salamat, sana mapakinggan, mabigay sa ating mga kasamahan ang fare increase na yan."

[Translation: It will still be of help. But we hope it will not just be ₱1, because amid the fuel price hikes this week, it's still hard to get by. But thank you, we hope they will listen to us and grant our colleagues that fare increase.]

Cassion said that the agency is balancing all factors, including the welfare of commuters, citing what the National Economic and Development Authority previously said that even a ₱1 fare hike could trigger higher inflation.

First tranche of aid distribution almost done

Meanwhile, Cassion stressed that the first part of their fuel subsidy distribution is almost complete, with 238,212 out of 264,578 beneficiaries who have already received their ₱6,500 aid.

She cited a "bottleneck" in the production of LandBank fuel subsidy cards as well as the resolution of the Commission on Elections to allow them to resume the subsidy program during election season which initially hampered their distribution.

Nasa payouts na po tayo (We're already in the payout process). Cards have been distributed in different (LandBank) branches…target na matapos (we aim to finish) within the week,” she said.

Various companies have imposed another ₱2.70 increase per liter for gasoline, ₱6.55 per liter for diesel, and ₱5.45 for kerosene effective June 7.

Public utility drivers and operators can expect to receive another round of ₱6,500 subsidy by first week of July, Cassion said.