THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has allowed the distribution of fuel subsidy to qualified beneficiaries, as it exempted the program from spending ban related to the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) 2023.
In Memorandum 23-06413 issued on September 20, 2023, the Comelec granted the request of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to exclude the Fuel Subsidy Program, as well as the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Service Contracting Program and the Modernization Program on spending restrictions related to the polls.
The spending ban, which is being implemented by Comelec during an election period, aims to prevent the use of public funds for the advantage of any candidate.
Comelec chairman George Garcia, however, reminded the implementing agencies of the programs that the exemption “shall not in any manner influence the conduct of the 30 October 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).”
He also noted that the exemption shall not involve any distribution of Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) “except those which are normally given to qualified individuals such as, but not limited to basic needs in the form of food, transportation, medical, educational, burial, and other similar assistance” nor shall it prevent the conduct of preliminary investigation in cases wherein prohibited acts of the Omnibus Election Code occurs particularly on the use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment, facilities owned or controlled by the government for an election campaign.
Earlier, various transport groups said they are unable to get the fuel subsidy despite funds having already been released by the Department of Budget Management (DBM) due to the Comelec spending ban.
The DBM released two weeks ago P3 million funds for the implementation of the Fuel Subsidy Program that is seen to benefit more than 1.36 million public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators.
The DBM said modernized public utility jeepneys (PUJ) and Utility Vehicle Express (UVE) will receive P10,000 each; P6,500 each for traditional PUJs and UVEs, public utility buses, minibuses, taxis, shuttle services taxis, Transport Network Vehicle Services, tourist transport services, school transport services and Filcabs; P1,000 for tricycles; and P1,200 for delivery services.
The cash aid aims to cushion the effects of the continuous increase of oil prices.
As of August 29, the Department of Energy indicated year-to-date net increases of P14.80 per liter of gasoline, P9.50 per liter for diesel, and P6.64 per liter for kerosene. (SunStar Philippines)