DOTr releases P1-billion to aid PUV drivers amid rising fuel prices

Updated Oct 26, 2021 | Same topic: Automotive Industry Updates

The money will be distributed among bonafide drivers and operators. 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has approved the release of Php 1 billion in financial assistance to public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, as the transportation sector reels from the effects of COVID-19 compounded by rising fuel prices worldwide. 

Fuel nozzle

Rising world oil prices amid pandemic lockdowns are putting PUV drivers at risk

In a press statement, the agency said that the disbursement will be handled by the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) as cash grants. The inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has released the funds to directly benefit some 178,000 bonafide PUV drivers in the remaining months of 2021. 

“The funds will be charged against the FY (fiscal year) 2021 Unprogrammed Appropriations under the Support for Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs,” the DBCC said. 

Under the LTFRB’s Pantawid Pasada Program, cash grants will be given to qualified PUV drivers through cash cards issued by the Land Bank of the Philippines. The financial assistance to help defray operating costs is provided for under Section 82 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which was also responsible for raising excise taxes on fuel in three tranches from 2018 to 2020. 

Jeepney passengers

The DOTr is proposing a return to 100-percent passenger capacity for PUVs 

The DOTr adds that the release of the funds is timely, as it will be defending its proposal to restore passenger capacity on PUVs to 100 percent before the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).  According to the agency, its position is based on both technical and medical studies, as Metro Manila’s alert status has been downgraded from Level 4 to 3 until the end of October.   

This is not the first time that subsidies were earmarked for the public transport sector, whose revenue streams have been affected by restricted passenger capacities due to pandemic lockdowns. Almost Php 803 million out of an allotted Php 1.158 billion in cash transfers have also been disbursed by the LTFRB to operators of over 140,000 PUVs as of December 2020. 

Free ride modern jeepney

Many PUV drivers participated in the DOTr's free ride program to avail of subsidies

Oil prices in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. have spiked in recent weeks due to a rise in crude oil costs and increased consumer demand for heating and transport purposes, apart from supply problems due to the pandemic and low investment in fossil fuels. Analysts expect pricing to remain high in the coming months, which could eventually affect the prices of basic commodities. 
The Department of Energy (DoE) has raised the possibility of suspending excise taxes on petroleum in the Philippines to help bring down oil prices, which Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi estimates could be as much as Php 10 per liter if Congress approves the measure. However, the Department of Finance (DoF) opposed the suggestion, saying that suspending these excise taxes will result in a shortfall of Php 131.4 billion for 2022, which could hamper the country’s budget for recovery measures. 

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Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph holds a degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines Diliman and has been writing professionally since 1999. He has written episodes for CNN Philippines' motoring show Drive, and has worked on corporate projects for MG Philippines and Pilipinas Shell. Aside from being’s Content Lead, he also writes content for numerous car dealerships in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Maserati, among others.


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