Senator Joel Villanueva backed calls that fuel subsidies to public utility vehicles be taken out of the election public spending ban list.
“The call of the hour is to step on the gas in distributing this aid, and not to step on the brakes,” Villanueva said.
The veteran legislator also said that the similar distribution of fuel vouchers to farmers and fisherfolk should not be halted on account of the May 9 elections.
“A moratorium is not only unjust, it is oppressive.”
“This is a critical lifeline to crucial sectors impacted by the high gas prices. So, a moratorium is not only unjust, it is oppressive,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
The reelectionist senator previously called on the government to fast track the distribution of the P2.5 billion fuel subsidy to the transport sector, and increase the P500 million fuel subsidy program for farmers and fisherfolk. In addition, he called for boosting the fuel subsidy for fishermen to an initial P2 billion.
Villanueva justified his call by citing studies that fuel accounts for half of the operating cost of fishermen, “which translates to half of the retail prices of fish we see in the market”.
“Any moratorium effectively cancels any proposal from the government to increase the budget of the program and the number of beneficiaries,” he said.
Villanueva said fuel vouchers should be treated in the same category as medicine for the sick.
“Dahil po ba may eleksyon, ititigil na po ba natin ang pagbibigay ng gamot at lunas?” he asked.
“Remember these are not tax breaks for billionaires in the millions, but trickle-down help to those who feed us, those who are bringing us to work,” Villanueva stressed.
He was the first senator to call for more exemptions to the election season government spending ban in order not to disrupt social services and work on critical infrastructure.
Villanueva also warned that declaring a pause on critical public works construction “will drive tens of thousands of workers into temporary unemployment”.
“Employment and economic relief should not be a casualty of election.”
“Employment and economic relief should not be a casualty of election. Feeding the nation, transporting the people, pandemic recovery should not take a back seat to polls,” he said.
Villanueva made the reaction as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has paused the allocation of fuel subsidy for PUV drivers and operators pending authorization from the COMELEC.