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‘Pasada’ subsidy: Drivers to get P5K each in lump sum

Program aiding jeepney sector rolls out July 17

‘PANTAWID’ BENEFICIARIES Jeepney operators and drivers set to receive the fuel subsidy appear for the paperwork at the Land Transportation Office main office in Quezon City on Thursday. —JAM STA ROSA

Instead of receiving their P5,000 fuel subsidy on a piecemeal basis over the next six months, jeepney operators and drivers covered by the government’s Pantawid Pasada program will be getting the amount in lump sum.

The first batch out of the 179,000 Pantawid beneficiaries can avail themselves of the subsidy through LandBank debit cards that will be issued starting next week, according to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chair Martin Delgra III.

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The LTFRB did away with earlier plans to release the amount in monthly instalments—or at P833 up to January next year—to avoid administrative bottlenecks, Delgra said.

At least 10,000 drivers are expected to receive their cards on July 17, LandBank President Alex Buenaventura said.

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Transactions using the card, which will bear the name of the beneficiary and the plate number of his or her registered vehicle, can be processed through point-of-sale devices at gasoline stations to ensure that it will be used only for fuel purchases.

Card distribution

It might take months to distribute cards among all 179,000 beneficiaries nationwide, Delgra said.

The LTFRB, along with the transportation, budget, energy and finance departments, are the lead agencies in charge of the P977-million Pantawid Pantawid program, which is aimed at helping jeepney drivers cope with the effects of the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law on fuel prices.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said the program’s budget could be increased to more than P1 billion next year, allowing for a higher subsidy per beneficiary.

‘Band-aid solution’

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Obet Martin, chair of the transport group Pasang Masda whose petition for a P1 provisional jeepney fare hike was recently granted, welcomed the subsidy despite being a mere “band-aid solution” to the difficulties faced by the jeepney sector.

Jeepney drivers typically use 15 to 20 liters of diesel a day, Martin said, bringing their daily fuel expenses to P900.

“To be honest, the P5,000 subsidy is like a mere peso to us, given our many expenses,” Martin said. “It’s a welcome relief, but the government needs to be committed to funding its (jeepney) modernization program for a longer-lasting solution.”

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TAGS: driver, LTFRB, subsidy
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