THE Marcos administration has earmarked a total of P4 billion for the provision of fuel subsidies to public transport drivers, farmers and fisherfolk, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced Thursday, March 2, 2023.

In a statement, the DBM said the P4 billion worth of fuel assistance will be charged against the regular budgets of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

About P3 billion will be distributed to qualified public utility vehicles (PUV), taxis, tricycles, and full-time ride-hailing and delivery services drivers nationwide in the form of fuel vouchers, the budget department said.

“The amount is P500 million higher than the P2.5 billion in the 2022 budget’s fuel subsidy program. This aims to cushion the impact of high oil prices on thousands of PUV drivers,” it said.

The implementation of the fuel subsidy program is subject to guidelines issued by the DOTr, the Department of Energy and the DBM.

The DBM said beneficiaries would be validated and identified by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The announcement came in the wake of various public transport groups’ plan to stage a weeklong strike beginning March 6 to contest the planned phaseout of traditional jeepneys by June 30.

On Wednesday, the LTFRB decided to extend the deadline for old jeepneys by six months, or on December 31.

Meanwhile, about P1 billion will be used to provide fuel assistance to more than 312,000 farmers and fishers, the DBM said.

“The fuel subsidy shall benefit more than 312,000 farmers and fisherfolk with P3,000 per beneficiary to ensure unimpeded agricultural production and fishing operations,” it said.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the distribution of fuel subsidies would continue under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to help the “most vulnerable” sectors.

“Kagagaling lang po natin sa pandemya. Naiintindihan po natin na maraming naapektuhang drivers and even our farmers and fisherfolk (We are still recovering from the pandemic. We understand that it affected many drivers, even our farmers and fisherfolk),” Pangandaman said.

“We are banking on our transport and agriculture sector to boost economic recovery. And so we need to provide them the help and boost they need.” (PNA)