Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries (File photo)

MANILA – Amid criticism over the measly PHP200 monthly fuel subsidy that the government plans to distribute to poor Filipino families amid the fuel price crisis, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday said he instructed Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III to increase the aid to PHP500.

In a speech delivered at Malacañan Palace, Duterte said he obtained feedback “from the ground” that the PHP200 monthly cash aid was “too small” and could not sustain a family of three to five members.

“They are the productive Filipinos for tomorrow ‘pag hindi ngayon (if not now). So sabi ko kay (I told) Sonny, ‘It will be an uphill battle for the next generation kung gawain natin na (if we make it) PHP500,’” he said.

He said it would be up to the next administration where to get a budget for the fuel subsidy.

“So I hope that this would go a long way really to help,” he added.

Last week, Malacañang said the government is aiming to distribute the monthly subsidy to beneficiaries within the month.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson Martin Andanar said the cash aid will be given on top of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) conditional cash grant of up to PHP3,450 per month.

The 4Ps conditional cash grant is composed of a PHP750 health and nutrition grant, educational grants for a maximum of three children per household - PHP700 for senior high school, PHP500 for junior high school, PHP300 for elementary, and a PHP600 rice subsidy.

Andanar said the amount is what the government can currently afford.

However, the policy drew criticisms, even from lawmakers who said that PHP200 is meager.

The move to provide for a monthly fuel subsidy came alongside Duterte’s decision to retain the excise tax on different fuel products.

The DOF said the suspension of fuel excise taxes would lead to a massive revenue loss of PHP105.9 billion, or about a half-percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) this year. (PNA)