By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

SUBSIDY. A jeepney driver gets his jeep filled up with gas in this undated photo. The Department of Budget and Management has approved the release of PHP3 billion for the fuel subsidy program to help the transport sector cope with rising oil prices. (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved the release of PHP3 billion for the implementation of the Fuel Subsidy Program (FSP), which stands to benefit about 1.36 million beneficiaries from the transport sector affected by increasing fuel prices.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman’s approval of the fund’s release came after the department received on Monday the official letter of request for the issuance of a Special Allotment Release Order and Notice of Cash Allocation for the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) FSP.

In a statement Friday, the DBM said the release was in accordance with Special Provision (SP) 7 of the DOTr – Office of the Secretary (OSEC) agency-specific budget authorized under Republic Act 11936 or the 2023 General Appropriations Act.

“It may be noted that the DOTr’s request dated 9 August 2023 was returned by the DBM on 17 August 2023, due to the noted deficiencies and inconsistencies in the accompanying supporting documents, including the non-submission of the guidelines to be issued by the DOTr, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the DBM, which is required under SP No. 7 in the FY (fiscal year) 2023 DOTr-OSEC Budget,” it said.

“Hence, on 4 September 2023 (Monday), the DBM received the hard copy of the officially-resubmitted request from the DOTr accompanied by the required supporting documents, including a copy of the FSP guidelines dated 31 August 2023, duly-signed by the respective Heads of the DOTr, DBM, DOE, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and Landbank of the Philippines (LBP).” 

The DBM said the 1.36 million target FSP beneficiaries would be given a one-time fuel subsidy, with varying rates depending on the applicable mode of transportation.

It said PHP10,000 each would be distributed to recipients operating or driving modernized public utility jeepneys (PUJ) and modernized utility vehicle express (UVE).

Beneficiaries using traditional PUJ, traditional UVE, public utility buses, minibuses, taxis, shuttle services taxis, transport network vehicle services, tourist transport services, school transport services, and filcabs will receive PHP6,500 each.

About PHP1,200 each will be given to those using delivery services, while PHP1,000 each will be distributed to those operating tricycles.

The DBM said the FSP recipients have been identified and validated by the LTFRB, in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“As provided in the draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) submitted by the DOTr, the subsidy shall be released to the DOTr-OSEC, which shall in turn, fully transfer the same to the LTFRB, as the implementing agency,” it said.

The DBM noted that based on the master list of eligible beneficiaries certified by the LTFRB, DICT, DTI, and DILG, Landbank will distribute the subsidies through the identified modes of payment, upon receipt of instructions from the LTFRB on the procedures, mechanics, and the agreed schedule.

It said Landbank would provide the DOTr and the LTFRB the required reports of its successful crediting of the predetermined amounts, under the timelines provided in the MOA, or as needed, for purposes of monitoring.

The FSP is projected to benefit approximately 1.36 million transport operators and drivers, including 280,000 PUVs, 930,000 tricycles, and 150,000 delivery units.

The program aims to bring some relief to the transportation stakeholders who are currently grappling with the repercussions of heightened fuel prices.

Pangandaman said the funds were released in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s commitment to help the transport sector.

“Transportation is the lifeblood of our economy. Bilin po sa amin ni President Bongbong Marcos na tulungan at huwag pabayaan ang ating mga manggagawa sa transport sector. Kaya naman po sisiguruhin namin na mabibigyan sila ng nararapat na tulong mula sa gobyerno (President Bongbong Marcos asked us to help and not neglect our workers in the transport sector. That’s why we will make sure that they will be given the appropriate help from the government),” she said. (PNA)