MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte has approved some P3 billion in subsidies and discount for drivers, farmers, and fisherfolk amid the surge in oil prices and Russia's continuing invasion of Ukraine, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Acting Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Duterte agreed allocating some P2.5 billion for the government's "Pantawid Pasada Program" and P500 million discount program for farmers and fisherfolk.
Nograles said the government would strengthen the Philippines' domestic economy and explore diplomatic channels to help cushion the war's negative impact to our country.
"Mitigating measures and contingency plans will be in place as part of the government's proactive response to the conflict in Ukraine," he said.
For the short-term measure, Malacañang is also calling on Congress to review the Oil Deregulation Law particularly the provisions on price unbundling and giving government intervention powers during prolonged increase of prices of oil products.
For the 9th straight week, major oil players implemented another hike on pump prices beginning March 1, citing a spike in global prices.
Data from the Department of Energy showed that the price of petroleum products in Metro Manila already reached an average of P66 for gas, P55 for diesel and P59 for kerosene.
"The Department of Energy will continue to monitor the sufficiency in supply and quality and will make sure there will be no short selling," Nograles said in a televised speech.
Aside from this, he said, Duterte also approved the recommendation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to "accelerate" renewable energy adoption and support investments on utility-scale battery production "to maximize use of renewable energy resources."
Government would also support investments for modern storage of oil, and empower the private sector in "strategic stockpiling," according to Nograles.
In the same speech, Nograles condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and lamented how this has led to an "unnecessary loss of life" of innocent men, women, and children just as countries recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Philippines called for an "immediate end" of the war and called on parties to forge a pact instead.
LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION
Nograles also bared that the President approved boosting local food production which includes increasing rice buffer stock by at least 30 days, giving financial aid to rice farmers, and by giving fertilizer subsidy and market access to fertilizer-producing countries.
Government, he said, would also provide logistical support from provinces with high yields to cities through the "Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita" or deploying mobile vans and trucks, as well as subsidy for transportation cost for common goods.
"Kung kinakailangan, nakahanda ang pamahalaan na isakatuparan ang implementasyon ng price control law," he said.
"We shall likewise continue talks with our partners and heighten negotiations with non-traditional partners to address threats to agricultural exports while improving our digital agricultural infrastructure and systems," said Nograles.
Businessmen are expecting flour prices to rise as a large part of the world’s wheat supply comes from Ukraine as well as other parts of Europe.
A supply chain disruption may happen if the situation further escalates, presidential presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion last week said.
Already shunned by the West over its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has shown no sign of stopping an assault that has included strikes on capital Kyiv and rocket attacks in the second city of Kharkiv.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled the fighting. The United Nations says more than 500 civilians have been killed in the invasion, but that the real number of people is likely much higher.
— with a report from Reuters