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MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has allowed the government to continue its rollout of fuel subsidy to struggling public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers despite the prohibition on the release of public funds during election period.
The Comelec approved on Tuesday, September 20, the request filed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to exempt the said project from the election spending ban.
The government’s fuel subsidy program is meant to cushion the impact of rising fuel prices on PUV drivers.
Over 1.3 million beneficiaries – who were set to receive amounts ranging from P1,000 to P10,000 depending on the vehicle type – are covered by the program which has a budget of P2.95 billion.
The Philippines marked an 11th consecutive week of oil price hikes after top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia extended supply cuts.
This brings total increases for diesel to P16.90 per liter, gasoline to P11.60, and kerosene to P15.74 since July.
Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier asked big oil players to find ways to cut their profit margins to reduce fuel prices, and warned of “unpalatable” measures should they fail to grant his wish.
Oil players and other lawmakers have been proposing a suspension of excise tax on fuel, but that would cost the government billions of pesos.
Aside from the fuel subsidy program, the Comelec also exempted the government’s programs on PUV service contracting and PUV modernization from the election spending ban.
The poll body did the same for the following livelihood and work programs of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on September 7:
- Special Program for Employment of Students
- Government Internship Program
- JobStart Philippines Program
- DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (KABUHAYAN)
- Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) Program
The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections will be held on October 30, but the election period is from August 28 to November 29.
This period activates a set of prohibitions, including a ban on the release, disbursement, or expenditure of public funds. – Rappler.com