House panel eyes cash aid for PUJ drivers to prevent fare hike

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2021 05:57 PM

Jeepney drivers wait for passengers along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City on August 17, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Jeepney drivers wait for passengers along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City on August 17, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File


MANILA - A House panel is considering cash aid for public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers and operators to prevent a fare hike amid the continuing increase in fuel prices.

Jeepney drivers have filed a petition for a fare hike before the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board amid fuel price increases.

After a closed-door executive session of the House Committee on Transportation on Wednesday, panel chair Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento said the proposed relief to prevent increase in fares will be contained in a joint resolution. 

"May susundin tayong proposal. Hindi ko lang masabi pero babalik tayo kung ano nangyari dati, 'yung 'Pantawid Pasada' (program). But the details hindi na," he said.

(We will follow a proposal. I can't say anything about it but we'll return to what happened before, like the Pantawid Pasada program. I won't say anything more about the details.)

The Pantawid Pasada program was initiated in 2018 to cushion the impact of higher fuel excise tax through the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. Because of this, the fuel subsidy is also being funded by the TRAIN law.

Sarmiento later said the proposal would follow the “Pantawid Pasada” model.

“Binigay muna natin sa DOE (Department of Energy), dito sa DOTr (Department of Transportation) 'yung pag-aaral kung anong nararapat habang ginagawa namin 'yung ... itong House resolution," he said.

(We sent the proposal to DOE and DOTr the proposal so they can study and suggest what should be done while we are working on this House resolution).

He expects the cash relief program to prevent an increase in fares.

“Ang direction naman ng gusto ng DOTr, kung pwede 'wag muna, kasi hirap din ang mamamayan," Sarmiento said.

(The DOTr wants to delay the fare hike since commuters will suffer.)

He said the cash grant proposal is acceptable to all parties concerned.

Advocacy group National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection (NCCSP) earlier said it agrees with the possible fare hike since many jeepney drivers suffered due to multiple COVID-19 lockdowns in the country. 

"We will manifest a no opposition to the petition,” NCCSP chair Elvira Medina said.

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