PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday said the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) has started distributing the fuel subsidy for public transport operators and drivers. 

For tricycle and delivery drivers, LTFRB said they are still waiting for the list of beneficiaries from the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Trade and Industry. 

Tricycles are regulated by local governments while delivery drivers are under private companies. 

They are not covered by the LTFRB regulatory powers, but the agency will help facilitate the distribution,it said in a statement in a mix of English and Filipino.  

Mar S. Valbuena, president of the transport group Samahang Manibela Mananakay at Nagkaisang Terminal ng Transportasyon, said in a phone interview that the challenge now is that the LTFRBs database is not updated.” 

Some operators cant be given a subsidy card due to the franchise still named under their previous owners,he said in Filipino. 

Mr. Valbuena also said that the P6,500 fuel subsidy is only good for one week for the UV Express type of public transport. We consume P1,200 a day for an average of 150 kilometers compared with P700 previously.”  

He said they are hoping that the government will lift the excise tax on fuel.   

He noted that around 30% to 40% of public utility vehicles or about 20,000 units have stopped operating as drivers no longer earn.  

Its the driverschoice,he said, Wala kaming panawagan na magtigil pasada (We have not called for a suspension of trips). Its their decision.” 

Pump prices went up for an 11th straight week on Tuesday. Fuel retailers raised gasoline and diesel prices by P7.10 and P13.15 per liter, respectively.  

FARMERS, FISHERFOLK
Meanwhile, fuel subsidy for farmers and fisherfolk in Leyte, located in central Philippines, is also ready for distribution, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).   

“We will start distributing the fuel discount cards to qualified corn farmers and fisherfolk in Leyte, where each will receive a total subsidy of P3,000,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar at a virtual briefing. 

“To avail of the 30% discount on diesel or gasoline fuel, they should present their respective discount card or voucher to fuel stations accredited by the Department of Energy,” he said.  

The discount vouchers, which will be issued in partnership with the Development Bank of the Philippines, will be primarily for all farmers with machinery used in corn production from land preparation to postharvest activities, and for fishermen who own motorized boats registered with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. 

Rice farmers are not covered by the fuel subsidy program as they are already receiving P5,000 from the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance. 

The legislated P500-million fuel subsidy will initially benefit 158,730 corn farmers and fisherfolk nationwide.  

For the second tranche, Mr. Dar said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved an additional P600-million funding for the subsidy program. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson