Comelec to exempt LTFRB’s fuel subsidy program from poll ban
MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairperson George Garcia assured the public on Wednesday that an election spending ban exemption to the fuel subsidy program will be released within the day so that the transportation sector would continuously receive aid.
Garcia, in an ambush interview at the House of Representatives after Comelec’s proposed 2024 budget was tackled at the plenary, said that they do not want to be a hindrance to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) program.
“Ang commitment natin, ilalabas natin ngayong araw na ito ang exemption na ‘yan, hindi natin patatagalin pagkat kailangan na kailangan ‘yan ng ating mga kababayan na nagmamaneho ng pampublikong sasakyan,” he told reporters.
(Our commitment is to release the exemption within the day; we would not prolong that since our fellow Filipinos driving public transportation modes badly need that program.)
“Hindi po tayo magiging burden sa kanila, so isang araw lang ilalabas po natin (We would not be a burden to them, so we would release this in a day’s time),” he added.
Garcia’s remarks came after the Land Bank of the Philippines on Tuesday assured the public of a “fast and timely crediting of fuel subsidies and distribution of cash cards to intended transport beneficiaries nationwide” if the election spending ban is lifted.
Spending for certain projects is banned during an election season. In this case, the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on October 30 mandated the suspension of some projects to avoid using government programs and assets for electioneering.
“The [LTFRB] is currently working on the exemption from the [Comelec] to resume the distribution under the Fuel Subsidy Program (FSP),” Landbank said on Tuesday.
“Pursuant to Comelec Resolution 10944, the releasing, disbursing or spending of public funds for social welfare projects are prohibited from September 15 to October 30, 2023 in relation to the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections next month,” Landbank added.
Garcia said that while he has not yet read the LTFRB’s application, he is optimistic that it will be approved since it is a national government agency’s request concerning a social service.
When asked why LTFRB had to seek an exemption when it is not involved directly in barangay elections, Garcia speculated that maybe the said agency wants to ensure that there are no legal questions to the provision of the fuel subsidy amid an election season.
“Siguro dahil sa gusto rin naman ng national government agency na makasigurado dahil sa mahirap na baka may magreklamo sa kanila. Ako rin naman, kung ako din naman ‘yong nasa kalagayan ng LGU (local government unit) or national government agency, ay manghihingi rin ako ng exemption,” Garcia said.
(Maybe because the national government agency wants to ensure the legality because they want to avoid complaints against them. If it were me, if I were in the shoes of the LGU or national government agency, I would also request an exemption.)
“As much as possible we do not want to deny applications for exemption especially if it is requested by a national government agency, and if it is a regular project of the said agency.