public transportation

Struggling PUV drivers can’t get fuel subsidies due to election spending ban

Lance Spencer Yu

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Struggling PUV drivers can’t get fuel subsidies due to election spending ban

MINIMUM FARE. In this file photo, a jeepney driver counts coins at a gasoline station along Rizal Avenue in Avenida, Manila on February 23, 2022.


The upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections may halt the distribution of the much-needed fuel subsidies until October 30 unless authorities find a way around the ban

MANILA, Philippines – Drivers of public utility vehicles (PUV), who were looking forward to some relief from continually rising petroleum prices, may have to wait longer after the distribution of fuel subsidies was put to a stop in light of the upcoming 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

Earlier on September 13, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said that it had begun to distribute P2.95 billion in fuel subsidies. More than 1.3 million beneficiaries – drivers of jeepneys, taxis, buses, tricycles – were set to receive amounts ranging from P1,000 to P10,000 depending on their vehicle type.

This subsidy was supposed to be remitted to the operator’s Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) account by LTFRB’s target date of September 15. As of September 13, only 25,000 beneficiaries had their accounts credited.

However, following complaints from several drivers that they have yet to receive the handout, Landbank confirmed that it stopped distributing the subsidies now that an election spending ban is in force.

“Landbank assures the fast and timely crediting of fuel subsidies and distribution of cash cards to intended transport beneficiaries nationwide once the prohibition to distribute in compliance to the election spending ban is lifted,” the state bank said in a statement on Tuesday, September 19.

The election ban has to do with Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution 10944, which prohibits the “releasing, disbursing, or spending of public funds for social welfare projects” in the run-up to the barangay and SK elections next month. The ban will last from September 15 to October 30, 2023.

Landbank noted in its statement that the LTFRB was “currently working on the exemption from Comelec to resume the distribution under the Fuel Subsidy Program.”

The subsidies were meant to cover the difference in the usual price of crude oil and its current elevated rate, which LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III estimated has risen from P51 to P71. The fuel assistance was supposed to last operators and drivers about 30 days.

Meanwhile, some transport groups have taken to the streets to protest the continuous increase in oil prices. This is now the 11st straight week that oil prices have gone up. House leaders have already warned of “unpalatable” measures against oil executives, but the government may still not be keen on suspending taxes on fuel. –

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.