Government grants fuel subsidy anewBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
With oil prices expected to soar again, President Benigno Aquino III on Monday ordered the implementation of two measures aimed at immediately alleviating the plight of drivers and operators in the transport sector.
Beginning Monday, the President ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to again grant a P1,200 subsidy to 100,000 jeepneys and tricycle drivers registered under the government’s Pantawid Pasada program.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the government had also come up with an arrangement where transport cooperatives would get a lower price for the purchase of tires, batteries and other spare parts from manufacturers.
“The government continues to focus its programs on the most affected sectors of society, in this case, the drivers and other members of the transport sector,’’ Lacierda told a press briefing.
Lacierda said oil was becoming more expensive because of increasing demand from Europe, which is now under extreme cold conditions, as well as the continuing tension between Iran and other nations.
Iran has threatened to cut off its oil supply to six European countries in retaliation for the embargo imposed by the United States and its allies to pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear program.
According to the DOE, there will be another hike in oil prices this week due to the continued rise in oil prices in the world market.
In his press briefing, Lacierda said he was not certain whether there would be additional assistance to the transport sector as he noted that the announced measures focused “on the areas where the transport sector is most affected.’’
“So hopefully, this will go a long way in assisting and lowering the cost of the spare tires, batteries and all the parts related to transport,’’ he said.
Talking about the renewed implementation of the Pantawid Pasada program, Lacierda said the government had P200 million more to fund the P1,200 subsidy for jeepney and tricycle drivers, which the DOE could start giving last night.
As for the arrangement between transport cooperatives and manufacturers which was made possible with the help of the Office of Transport Cooperatives under the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Philippine International Trading Corp. under the Department of Trade and Industry, he said the two groups were set to meet today to discuss how to go about this agreement.
“We have around 28 cooperatives in all sectors—bus, taxi, public utility vehicles—and so they will be meeting (today) to elect four geographical cooperatives—north, south, west and east—and from among them, they will be the ones dealing with the manufacturers. And once that happens, they will be able to secure purchases at a discount,” he told reporters.
Lacierda said the cooperatives would be able to get tax exemptions and dealer discounts from manufacturers, adding that this would bring down the maintenance costs for jeepneys, buses, AUVs and taxis.
Asked if President Aquino would still meet with transport leaders, Lacierda said he would ask the Chief Executive but since the benefits had already been laid out, “we will see again if there is further need” for such a meeting.
“But again, the President is open to meeting with them, but let’s see how this package will assist the transport sector,” he said.