FUEL SUBSIDY. Jeepney drivers provide free transport to authorized persons outside residence in Laoag City in this undated photo. On Tuesday (July 5, 2022), a total of 1,028 jeepney operators and drivers received PHP4,000 each as fuel subsidy, courtesy of the Ilocos Norte government. (File photo by Leilanie Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – Ilocos Norte’s provincial government announced Wednesday that all eligible drivers and operators of public utility transport in the province will continue to get financial assistance.

Althea Nicolette Pilar, project head of the Metro Ilocos Norte Council (MINC), said almost PHP10 million in cash assistance has been allotted to jeepney and tricycle drivers to help them deal with the rising fuel prices.

“The whole project was funded by the provincial government of Ilocos Norte through the efforts of the governor and the Local Finance Council,” Pilar said as she reported that the distribution of at least PHP4,000 cash aid to each tricycle driver started in Banna town on Wednesday.

She noted that more or less 13,000 tricycle operators and drivers in the entire province are eligible for the continuing cash assistance program but some are still in the process of submitting their documentary requirements, pending the distribution of their payroll.

On Tuesday, more than PHP4 million was released to 1,028 jeepney operators and drivers at the provincial government’s motor pool.

The eligible beneficiaries are pre-identified as members of the MINC who are supporting Ilocos Norte's vision to improve transportation services in key economic zones.

This is apart from the Pantawid Pasada Program, which the national government set up to help public utility drivers struggling with the oil price hikes.

In his speech during the cash aid distribution in Laoag City, Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc assured drivers and operators of public utility vehicles of the local government's support.

“With the rising prices of fuel, you are the most affected. Now that we have the national government on our side, we should be the first to experience change. And this shall be the start of continuing support for (public transport) modernization,” Manotoc said. (PNA)