A party-list lawmaker called for an expanded fuel subsidy program for the transport sector to widen the reach and provide assistance to those in the provinces and countryside areas amid the successive oil price hikes.
ACT-CIS Representative Eric Yap said the country is already on the verge of a fuel crisis with the tight global oil supply amid the Russia-Ukraine tension and the increasing demand for fuel as the general public return to “normal” under the lowest COVID-19 Alert Level 1.
“The most affected group here are those in the transport and agricultural sector,” Yap said.
The legislator said aside from implementing and distributing fuel subsidies, the government should set clear parameters and prioritize those in the provinces, most especially food-producing areas.
“We should not forget those who are outside the metropolitan area who are equally if not more, affected by the oil price surge. Our farmers in the province have to transport their produce from the farm to the market through mountainous terrain, which requires the vehicle to consume more fuel and oil,” the lawmaker said.
He said the prolonged oil spikes could harm the profit of farmers due to the significant increase in hauling costs from farm to market, which in turn, could put the country’s food supply at stake.
“This is an urgent matter; we have to think and move fast.”
“This is an urgent matter; we have to think and move fast. These unwarranted oil price hikes will soon translate to fare hikes, higher electricity bills, spike in food prices, higher costs of transporting goods, among others. This is what we are trying to avoid,” Yap said.
He said he will lobby for a special session in Congress to collectively discuss and pass a measure automatically reducing or suspending the fuel excise tax once a certain price is reached.
“We have to ease the impact of the rising oil prices experienced by ordinary Filipinos.”
“This shall benefit everyone, not only the transport sector. We have to ease the impact of the rising oil prices experienced by ordinary Filipinos,” Yap said.
Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assured President Rodrigo Duterte that the impact of the current Russia-Ukraine crisis on the Philippines would only be temporary, and a comprehensive set of measures are now being implemented to ease its impact on the economy and the people.
Dominguez said the measures outlined by Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to squarely address these potential shocks will help insulate Filipinos from the effects of the crisis.
“With the measures that Secretary Chua has presented, we are confident that we will be able to keep inflation within our target range of 2 to 4 percent and to maintain our growth path of 7 to 9 percent this year,” he said during Duterte’s Talk to the People recently.
Among the measures presented by Chua are increasing the number of fuel subsidies to the public transport sector and farm producers; expanding the oil buffer stock; continuing the promotional fuel discount given by oil firms; promoting energy conservation; suspending or removing pass-through fees imposed by the local government units and other entities on truckers; implementing service contracting in all public transport routes; and promoting the use of electronic vehicles and the use of active transport (e.g. bicycles) as among the measures to mitigate the impact of the oil price hike.
In the agriculture sector, Chua recommended implementing the second phase of the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program subject to the availability of funds; providing targeted fertilizer vouchers to farmers, and expanding supply through bilateral discussions with fertilizer-producing countries.