DBM: P2.5 billion funds for fuel subsidy may be released this weekend

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 09 2022 05:41 PM | Updated as of Mar 09 2022 05:51 PM

A jeepney driver refuels at a gasoline station in Manila on Feb. 28, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN news
A jeepney driver refuels at a gasoline station in Manila on Feb. 28, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN news

MANILA - The Department of Budget and Management (DBM)) on Wednesday said funds for the P2.5-billion fuel subsidy for public utility vehicle drivers might be released as early as this weekend to help them cope with rising oil prices.

The fuel subsidy was among the measures that President Rodrigo Duterte recently approved to cushion the Philippines from the economic fallout of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

“We expect that within this weekend, at the latest early next week, ang pag-release nito," Acting Budget Secretary Tina Rose Canda said of the subsidy. 

"So nakikiusap kami ng konting pasensya, pero talagang minamadali namin ito medyo hindi lang kami makagalaw dahil may mga batas na kailangang tuparin para ma-release ang pondong ito,” Canda said in a public briefing at PTV. 

(We expect that within this weekend, at the latest early next week, it will be released. We are appealing for your patience but we are already expediting this. We just can't move freely because there are laws to follow.) 

Canda said the DBM was only waiting for the signing of a joint memorandum among the budget, transportation, and energy department to release the funds. 

“Sa DBM, madali lang 'yan, upon 24 hours ng receipt ng approval, mare-receive na ng [Department of Transportation] 'yan,” Canda added.

(In the DBM, it is just easy. Upon 24 hours of receipt the DOTr will receive it.) 

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At least 377,000 public transport workers will benefit from the fuel subsidy, said Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Executive Director Kristina Cassion. 

“Once po na-download na po ng DBM iyong funds at sabi naman po nila within this month po ay kanilang mairi-release na po iyong pondo ay makapag-distribute na po kaagad ang LTFRB sa... beneficiaries," Cassion said in the same briefing.

(Once the DBM downloads the funds, and they said they can release the funds within this month, the LTFRB can immediately distribute it to beneficiaries.) 

Canda said the government might be able to release a second tranche of fuel subsidies by the end of the month, which would be sourced from excess revenues.

“Magkakaroon na tayo ng karagdagang nakolekta sa revenue na hindi kasama sa computation natin ng 2022 budget. Ang tawag natin dito excess revenues," she explained.

"Mayroon tayong proseso para ma-release yung tinatawag nating unprogrammed appropriations, it’s called standby appropriations. Ang magti-trigger lang n'yan ay yung additional revenues. We estimate na pagdating ng katapusan ng Marso, meron na 'yun,” she added.

(We will have additional collected revenue that is not part of our computation of the 2022 budget. We call that excess revenue. We have a process to release so-called unprogrammed appropriations, it’s called a standby appropriations. What will trigger that are the additional revenues. We estimate that by the end of March, we will already have that.) 

Gas prices rose by P3, while diesel prices by P5 on Tuesday, hitting already struggling PUV drivers who are lobbying for fare hikes. 

LTFRB postponed its fare hike hearing to March 22 due to the incomplete submission of relevant documents, Cassion said.