GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/31 August) –The first tranche of the government’s “Pantawid Pasada” assistance for public transportation drivers has finally arrived in Southwestern Mindanao or Region 12, a Land Transportation Office official said.
Arlan Mangelen, LTO-12 director, said that 672 cards would be distributed to beneficiaries of the Public Transport Assistance Program (PTAP) in the region, almost four months after the Department of Energy first handed them out.
A total of 2,066 Pantawid Pasada beneficiaries, he added, have been identified in the region, consisting of the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Mangelen did not say when the remaining 1,394 cards will arrive.
“This program was conceived by our government to help the public transportation drivers who suffered from increasing fuel prices,” he said at the ceremonial card distribution here last week.
Each Pantawid Pasada card contains P1,050 worth of fuel for jeepneys and P150 for tricycles, with Mangelen urging the beneficiaries to keep them as it is valid until 2016 for discounts or promos that may be initiated by oil companies.
President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III earlier issued Executive Order No. 32, Series of 2011, titled “Instituting the Public Transport Assistance Program or the Pantawid Pasada that aims to benefit 214,596 jeepney operators nationwide.
Under Joint Circular No. 1 of the departments of Energy, Finance, Budget and Management, Interior and Local Government and Transportation and Communications issued last April 27, the initial funding of P450 million for the Pantawid Pasada program will be sourced from the DOE-Special Account in the General Fund (SAGF) – 15, specifically from the revenue of the Malampaya Gas Field Project.
P300 million of the fund will be released to the DOE for the jeepney driver beneficiaries and P150 million to the DILG for the tricycle driver beneficiaries.
As this developed, local militants staged a protest rally here Wednesday in line with the “Nationwide People’s Protest” against oil price hikes and alleged overpricing by oil companies.
Ryan Lariba, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Socsksargen chapter, castigated President Aquino, noting that since he assumed office, fuel prices climbed to P43-P46 per liter from P32/L at the start of his term.
“The continuing fuel prices is a result of connivance between an oil cartel and the government,” he claimed, adding that there’s an overprice of P9/L based on a study by BAYAN.
He called for a rollback in fuel prices, as well as the scrapping of the Oil Deregulation Law. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)