Additional P600-M fuel subsidy for farmers, fishers
The fuel discount cards for farmers and fishermen will be available in the coming days, part of a P500-million subsidy from the Department of Agriculture (DA) that will get a boost from an additional allocation of P600 million next month, an official said on Friday.
In an interview with radio station dzBB, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said the additional funds for the fuel subsidy—pegged at P3,000 per farmer or fisher—is expected by April.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Thursday released P3 billion in fuel subsidies to public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators and agricultural producers following skyrocketing fuel prices exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Of the total, P2.5 billion would be disbursed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and P500 million to the DA for their fuel subsidy programs meant “to provide targeted assistance to affected sectors and cushion the impact of the consecutive oil price hikes in the past three months.”
The money came from their respective allocations in the P5.02-trillion 2022 national budget.
“We are in talks with our partner, the Development Bank of the Philippines, to iron out the distribution of fuel discount cards amounting to P3,000 each in the coming days,” De Mesa said.
Under guidelines issued by the DA, farmers and fishers would receive a 30-percent discount whenever they purchase gasoline or diesel from a designated fuel station until they use up the maximum P3,000 per farmer or fisher.
Beneficiaries would be the corn farmers who use machinery for production, from land preparation to postharvest activities, and fishers who use motorized boats.
Eligible farmers and members of farmers’ cooperatives and associations must be registered and are able to prove that they own and operate a functional machinery.
Qualified fishers and members of fishermen’s cooperatives and associations must also be registered and use registered motorized bancas with three gross tons or smaller. They also have to use legal fishing gear.
Participating oil companies or fuel stations would receive assistance from the Department of Energy through the DA’s regional offices.
Oil companies on Tuesday implemented the biggest increase in the per-liter price of fuel so far this year—P5.85 for diesel, P4.10 for kerosene, and P3.60 for gasoline.
The price of diesel has risen by P17.50 a liter and gasoline by P13.25 a liter since January this year.
Lauded by CHR
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) praised the government for the subsidies to farmers and fishers.
“This will help cushion the impact to their income while also helping to keep food cost at bay,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.
She said the CHR was looking forward to a “prompt, transparent, and equitable” distribution of the subsidy.
“[The] CHR is hopeful that the various support and assistance will help in sustaining agricultural livelihood, especially among the vulnerable members of the agriculture sector,” De Guia said.
The P6,500 subsidy for the transport sector will be distributed on March 15 through cash cards from the Land Bank of the Philippines and vouchers from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Modesto Floranda, president of Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), on Friday urged the LTFRB to relax the process of getting the subsidy, citing previous bad experiences.
He said that in the past drivers and operators in Metro Manila had to go to the LTFRB’s National Capital Region office in Fairview, Quezon City, which is located in the city’s northernmost part, just to get an answer on why their cash cards had no balance and to submit documents proving that they are beneficiaries.
Among the documents they needed to submit are a copy of the vehicle’s franchise, driver’s license, and jeepney registration. If the jeepney was purchased, the deed of sale should be submitted instead of just the registration, he said.
He also said some drivers held cash cards with zero balance when they used them to pay for gas.
“Based on our experiences in the past, the process for claiming the subsidy is too slow,” Floranda told the Inquirer. “The process alone is already a difficulty for us and we hope the LTFRB will ease this as they release the guidelines.”
He said that aside from providing subsidy, the government must now consider suspending the excise on fuel and repealing the 1998 oil deregulation law.
“These are the things they should consider. We welcome the fuel subsidy, but I think it’s time they consider their actions to be long-term instead of just handing out the subsidy,” Floranda said. —WITH A REPORT FROM DEMPSEY REYES
Gov’t to provide P3 B fuel subsidy to transport, agri sectors — DBCC
DBM releases P3-B fuel subsidies, funding for discounts
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