Senator Sonny Angara said the government should act swiftly to bring down consumer prices and release the unconditional cash transfer and fuel subsidy provided in the law after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the implementation of the second tranche of fuel excise tax hikes starting January next year.
“Ang sa akin lang, kailangan ‘yung presyo bumaba rin sana at ‘yung ayuda na ipinangako sa ilalim ng batas ay maibigay rin agad,” Angara said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
The seasoned legislator was referring to the unconditional cash transfer and Pantawid Pasada programs, which were provided as “social welfare benefits” under the tax reform law.
The law provides for additional unconditional cash transfers to low-income earners amounting to P2,400 for 2018 and P3,600 for 2019 and 2020, while the Pantawid Pasada entitles qualified franchise holders of public utility jeepneys to fuel vouchers.
The fuel subsidy program aims to ease the impact of the oil excise tax hikes on commuters and on the land transport sector.
However, the veteran lawmaker lamented the apparent delay in the implementation of the social mitigating measures under the tax reform law.
“The 10 million beneficiaries have not all been given the unconditional cash transfer. That’s to help the poorest of the poor na saluhin ‘yung pagtaas ng presyo. There are 2 million beneficiaries who have not received that yet this year,” the senator pointed out.
“The 10 million beneficiaries have not all been given the unconditional cash transfer.”
On the Pantawid Pasada, he said that only 37 percent of the 160,000 jeepney franchise holders have been given fuel subsidy.
“On the Pantawid Pasada, only 37 percent of the 160,000 jeepney franchise holders have been given fuel subsidy.”
“Those were the two basic. There are even discounts and livelihood program under the law that are not being implemented yet,” Angara said.
He said the President’s decision to approve the recommendation of his economic managers to proceed with the implementation of the second tranche of fuel excise tax hikes should have not come as a surprise.
“It’s not a surprise the President agreed with his economic managers because he tends to follow what they say, and this recommendation came after eight successive (oil price) roll backs,” Angara explained.