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More than 1.6 M students benefit from PBBM admin’s fuel subsidy, ‘libreng sakay’ programs

A large number of Filipinos benefitted from the government’s fuel subsidy and Libreng Sakay programs carried out to cushion the effect of oil price hikes on the transport sector and commuters.

According to the administration’s year-end report, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had facilitated the timely release of funding to sustain the ongoing implementation of the fuel subsidy program for public utility vehicles (PUVs) and the Libreng Sakay Program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. also directed the DOTr to continue the implementation of the Libreng Sakay for Students Program in LRT-2, which benefitted an estimated 1.6 million students from August 22 to November 5 this year.

In addition, under the Oplan Balik Eskwela program of the MRT-3 and the Philippine National Railways (PNR), a total of 143,290 students were given a 20 percent fare discount.

The government’s Service Contracting Program (SCP) also provided compensation to operators and drivers whose livelihoods were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in oil prices.

From April to July 2022, 19,194 PUV drivers were contracted to operate 16,832 PUV units on 921 routes across the country, the report said, adding that as of December 23, 2022, the EDSA Busway is being serviced by 751 Public Utility Bus units operated by 87 companies.

To reduce energy costs, the Marcos government implemented concrete steps since July this year, such as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EEC) program and also assisted distribution utilities to rationalize power supply sources.

The report said the Department of Energy (DOE) carried out the Government Energy Management Program (GEMP), which mandated all government agencies to save at least 10 percent on the consumption of electricity and fuel through the adoption of energy conservation measures.

As of December 13, 19 percent of government entities are compliant with the GEMP, resulting in savings equivalent to P285 million.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) also suspended the collection of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) from December 2022 to February 2023 to ease inflation pressure on electricity consumers.

The FIT is a uniform charge imposed on all on-grid electricity consumers for the development and promotion of renewable energy in the country.

The ERC and DOE have been conducting a Power Supply Agreement (PSA) Caravan since November 2022 aimed at assisting distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) in rationalizing and optimizing their power supply sources.

Other government measures include the continued implementation of targeted subsidies to mitigate the impact of increasing fuel and electricity prices.

As a result of DOE’s negotiation with oil companies for a fuel discount program, participating gasoline station outlets offered a fuel discount of P1 to P4 per liter.

On October 28, 2022, the ERC, DOE, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA No. 11552, extending the lifeline subsidy among qualified marginalized electricity users to another 30 years and expanded the beneficiaries to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) members.

The DOE likewise continued the implementation of Republic Act 11371 or the Murang Kuryente Act (MKA), allowing the use of the government’s share from the Malampaya gas field as payment for the stranded contract cost and stranded debts of the National Power Corp. (NPC).

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