LTFRB-6 still waiting for poll body’s resolution for fuel aid

Mayin De Los Santos Photo

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Public utility vehicle drivers would have to wait a little longer for their fuel subsidies as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-6 awaits guidance from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on the released of the assistance.

LTFRB-6’s legal officer Atty. Jun Altura told Aksyon Radyo Iloilo Thursday that they have heard about COMELEC’s advisory on April 6, 2022 announcing that the request for exemption had been resolved.

The release of public funds is restricted during the campaign period to avoid using government resources for politicking. Release of public money must be cleared first with the COMELEC.

Altura said they need an official copy of the COMELEC resolution before the subsidy cards can be released through the Landbank.

“We received information that [the fuel subsidy issue] had been resolved, but we are waiting for the official copy of the [COMELEC] resolution so we can forward to the Landbank participating branches, so that they may be properly guided and they may have documentary basis to continue the release of the fuel subsidy cards,” Altura said.

Altura said the Landbank has yet to release around 1,100 cards in Iloilo alone, as well as 270 in Bacolod City, and less than 150 in Kalibo, Aklan.

He added that the regional office does not have the full figures of the qualified beneficiaries as well as how many fuel subsidy cards have been claimed.

He also explained that the LTFRB-6 merely receives and checks the completeness of the requirements then forward them to the central office, which conducts the evaluation and approval, before submitting the list of qualified beneficiaries to Landbank.

The bank also reports on the progress of the aid directly to the LTFRB central office.

“The [LTFRB central office] gives Landbank the list [of qualified beneficiaries], and the [bank] makes a report to the central office, and not to us, so we don’t know how many among the qualified have been able to claim [fuel subsidy cards],” Altura said.

He assured that those who have received fuel subsidy cards are guaranteed to receive the aid, but as to when it will be released remains to be seen.

There remains to be a challenge with that assurance, however, as Altura said the aid can only be availed from fuel accredited by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Energy (DOE).

He cited Guimaras which lacks accredited stations and Aklan which has a handful of authorized pump stations.

“There are small problems to be encountered there [with the subsidies], as they can only be availed with accredited gasoline stations. It cannot be availed with every gasoline station where drivers and operators can buy. The accreditation of these stations emanates from the [DOTr and the DOE], not with the LTFRB,” he said.

COMELEC Commissioner George Garcia said on Wednesday that COMELEC had allowed the release of the government’s P3-billion fuel subsidy.

The LTFRB, however, would still need to provide the poll body with information on the scope of the implementation and how the subsidy may be implemented.

The agency had already distributed P6,500 in aid to 110,287 jeepney and bus drivers out of 264,578 qualified beneficiaries nationwide via Landbank before the election ban took effect on March 25.