Gov’t social services should be exempted from poll ban, says Lacson
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol — Social services provided by the national government should be exempted from the election ban, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday as he also saw the need for the Senate to act on the suspension of fuel subsidy distribution among public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators.
“I don’t think yung [the] national government should be covered by the election ban on providing social services to our people, especially at the time when the prices of fuel tuloy tuloy yung taas [continually rise],” Lacson, who is running for president, told reporters here.
This, when asked regarding the move of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to temporarily halt on March 25 its distribution of fuel subsidy to PUV drivers and operators due to the election spending ban.
“Wala na, malulumpo yung ating transport sector, malulumpo, yung ating fisherfolk at saka mga farmers, kaya nga nagkaroon ng subsidy, call of the times yun tapos iintindihin mo pa ang Comelec ban,” Lacson went on.
(Our transport will be crippled, our fisherfolk, our farmers — that’s why there’s been a fuel subsidy, that’s the call of the times but now we have also have to think about this Comelec ban.)
“Even yung [the] local officials, yung [the] local executives, should not be hamstrung by the so-called election ban in providing social services to their constituents because they cannot wait,” he added.
The LTFRB has already appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to let it proceed with its fuel subsidy disbursement.
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said the poll body’s decision on LTFRB’s appeal is set to be announced on April 7.
Asked if the Senate can also act on the suspension of fuel subsidy distribution, Lacson said: “I think we should do something about that.”
He pointed out that the distribution of fuel subsidy is mandated in a special provision of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) budget under the General Appropriations Act.
“Wag i-suspend because ngayon kailangan eh isu-suspend mo, ano paparusahan mo?” Lacson said.
(Don’t suspend it, because why should it be suspended now, you will punish those affected?)
He said the Senate can inquire with the DOTr why it decided to suspend the distribution despite it being provided under the law. He said this is an exercise of the upper chamber’s oversight function.
“Pwede nating itanong sila anong basis nyo (DOTr) for suspending, oversight yun eh nasa batas yun, yung subsidy, ‘di ba lagi kong sinasabi ko sa mga dialogue special provision under the budget of DOTr,” he added.
(We can ask them what their basis is for suspending it — that’s oversight because the subsidy in the law; I’ve been saying during my dialogues that that’s a special provision under the budget of the DOTr.)
“So that’s a law na mag-provide ng subsidy basta pumalo siya ng $80 per barrel on the average over a period of three months. So nangyari na yun, $105 per barrel na nga tayo so dapat sundin ang batas,” he also said.
(That’s a law providing subsidy when fuel price hits $80 per barrel on the average over a period of three months. So that happened, we’re now $105 per barrel so they need to follow the law.)
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