Politics

P1-B aid to be shared by 136,230 jeepney drivers

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PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE TRANSPORTATION department said Monday that it identified 136,230 jeepney drivers who will be eligible for P1 billion worth of cash assistance to help them deal with rising fuel prices.

The eligible jeepney drivers form the majority of the 178,000 public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers as estimated by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).

“The P1-billion budget for fuel subsidy shall be divided (among) the 136,230 qualified and bona fide jeepney drivers nationwide, based on the TRAIN (tax reform for acceleration and inclusion) law,” Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said in a statement.

“In anticipation of the downloading of funds for the P1-billion fuel subsidy, I signed the tripartite memorandum of agreement between the Department of Transportation (DoTr), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the Landbank of the Philippines earlier today, Nov. 8, 2021,” he added.

The agreement lays down the framework and documentation rules for the immediate implementation of the program upon receipt of the budget from the Department of Budget and Management.

“Ibig sabihin operators ‘yan o ‘yung bilang ng sasakyan na registered sa kanila (LTFRB) (The list was based on operators and vehicles registered with the LTFRB),” Manibela National President Mar S. Valbuena told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.

“Ang tantya ko lang, kung mga jeepney lang, nasa halos kalahating milyon ang meron sa buong Pilipinas. Sa National Capital Region lang nasa 70,000 na, jeepney drivers lang ‘yan (My own estimate is that there are about half a million in the entire country. Just in the NCR, there are 70,000, just jeepney drivers)” he added.

LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III had yet to respond to request for comment at deadline time regarding the eligibility criteria for subsidy recipients.

On Oct. 25, the DBCC announced that the government would release P1 billion to the LTFRB to provide cash grants to PUV workers for the remainder of the year.

“This will be distributed using the system established under the Pantawid Pasada Program of the LTFRB,” the DBCC said.

The funds are to be charged against 2021 unprogrammed appropriations under the Support for Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs, it noted.

The LTFRB clarified on Oct. 26 that only the drivers of public utility jeepneys or PUJs would benefit from the P1-billion cash aid. — Arjay L. Balinbin