MANILA – Senator Sonny Angara on Friday urged the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to hasten the downloading of funds for the distribution of the government's fuel subsidy for qualified beneficiaries.
Angara said now that the Commission on Elections has officially exempted the distribution of the fuel subsidies from the ban on spending during election period for the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls, there should no longer be any reason for delay in the program's full implementation.
“Assuming all of the requirements have been met and the recipients have been identified, we urge the Landbank of the Philippines to fast-track the downloading of the fuel subsidies to the intended beneficiaries,” he said.
He noted that a total of PHP3 billion was allotted this year under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the transport fuel subsidies, which will go to around 1.36 million beneficiaries.
Under the government's fuel subsidy program, PHP10,000 will be provided to each of the drivers of modernized public utility vehicles (PUVs); PHP6,500 to drivers of traditional four-wheel PUVs; PHP1,200 to delivery riders; and PHP1,000 to tricycle drivers.
“With pump prices going up for 11 straight weeks, the PUV drivers have to bear the additional costs and deal with lower incomes. This could mean more hours on the road and less food on the tables of their families,” Angara said.
Under the 2024 National Expenditure Program, the executive branch has proposed PHP2.5 billion for fuel subsidies to the transport sector which was the same in 2023 but was increased by Congress by PHP500 million.
Apart from the PHP3 billion for the transport sector, Angara said PHP1 billion has also been earmarked in the 2023 GAA for fuel assistance to farmers and fisherfolk.
Of the PHP1 billion, some PHP510.4 million was placed under the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture for fuel assistance to the farmers while PHP489.6 million was placed under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for the fisherfolk.
This will benefit 312,000 farmers and fisherfolk to help them sustain their production and operations.
In a statement on Tuesday, the LBP assured the "fast and timely" crediting of fuel subsidies and distribution of cash cards to intended transport beneficiaries while waiting to be excused in the compliance with the election spending ban. (PNA)