Press Release
March 14, 2022


Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday said that the fuel aid to be distributed under the Pantawid Pasada Program will not be enough to keep the transport system running noting that the price hike in petroleum prices is seen to affect the sector for a prolonged period.

"The increase in the budget for Pantawid Pasada to cover more drivers is a step in the right direction, but it really does not go far enough. P6,500 will help make ends meet for drivers only for a little over a month, but this international energy crisis looks like it will last far longer than just a month. What will happen after a month?"

"Dahil hindi sapat ang ayuda, mapipilitang mag-"tigil pasada" ang mga tsuper. Malulugi lang sila sa pagod ng maghapong pasada kung kakainin ng pang-gasolina ang kita at halos wala nang maiuuwi sa pamilya. Hindi ito dapat mangyari," she said.

The Senator made the statement after the Department of Energy announced that it will double its budget for the program to P5B from the initial P2.5B to cushion the soaring fuel prices.

She observed that the government is just trying to run twice as fast just so the transport sector can stay in the same place, when what we need to do is to run faster and to shift to a new direction.

"Kailangan ng mas seryosong solusyon, hindi lang para mapanatiling kumikita ang mga tsuper at operators na nagpapaandar ng ating transport system, kundi para maging abot-kaya rin ang pamasahe," Hontiveros stated.

The big necessary step, according to Hontiveros, is an expanded service contracting program that will not just run for a month or two, but for years. Service contracting, she said, will ensure that drivers and operators get their due in exchange for reliable and affordable services for the riding public - even if the government does not grant them a large enough fare adjustment in the face of these extraordinary fuel prices.

"Makakatulong ng kaunti ang ayuda sa pantawid pasada pero ang totoong solusyon ay pagpondo sa mas maaasahang byahe na hindi uubos ng pera at panahon ng mga pasahero. Ayuda na mag-aalis sa napakahabang mga pila, mabigat ng traffic at napakarami at magastos na palipat-lipat ng sakay bago makauwi," she said.

"Noon pa man, nakita na nating win-win solution ang service contracting hindi lang sa mga tsuper na nanganganib malugi sa pamamasada, kundi pati na sa commuters na magkaroon ng ginhawa at hindi na kailangang pumila ng matagal bago makasakay," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said that "when we are able to move people without the daily hassle and pain, car owners who will suffer from high fuel prices the most, can be more easily persuaded to use their street-congesting cars less often as they transition into public transport."

Hontiveros also emphasized that should the excise tax on fuels not be removed, its revenues should immediately be earmarked to improve the public transport system, beginning with the service contracting program.

She furthered that the oil price stabilization fund will no longer need to be revived, since the service contracting mechanism, in tandem with fare adjustments, can be made bigger when fuel costs are high and smaller when fuel is more affordable.

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