By GERRY LEE GORIT, Correspondent
CAGAYAN de Oro City--The national government has allocated P28 million that will benefit operators of more than 5,000 public utility jeepney (PUJ) units in Northern Mindanao under the Pantawid Pasada Program (PPP) of the government, according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-10 (LTFRB-10) on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
Aminoden Guro, LTFRB-10 regional director, said there are a total of 5,600 public utility jeepney (PUJ) units in the region, the owner-operators of whom will receive a P5,000 subsidy per jeepney under the PPP.
LTFRB has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines as its official bank. Land Bank will also distribute the PPP cards to the operators.
Lilian Capistrano, branch manager of Land Bank-Velez in Cagayan de Oro, said the PPP card that the beneficiaries will receive has already been loaded with P5,000 each and can now already be used to purchase fuel at authorized gasoline stations.
Guro said the regionwide release of the PPP cards will be held at the Land Bank-Velez on Sept. 1, Saturday.
The PPP is good for five months, and will be renewed for next year. The cash subsidy for PUJ operators was the result of the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law.
Guro said the cash assistance will be given to operators and it’s up to them if they want to make an arrangement with their drivers regarding the utilization of the fuel subsidy.
He said the card that will be given to the operators cannot be used to purchase other commodities but its sole purpose is to pay for fuel products.
“We have authorized fuel refilling stations where the operators can use the card for refueling,” Guro said during the ceremonial distribution of the PPP cards outside the Land Bank Velez branch on Tuesday.
Lawyer Samuel Jardin, LTFRB executive director, said the card has its own security features so it cannot be abused.
“It’s plate-specific,” Jardin said, referring to the fact that the name of the operator and plate number of the PUJ are printed on the card.
Before operators are issued the PPP cards, they have already been validated if they have renewed or have confirmed their PUJ franchise, he said.
For 2019, Jardin said operators will receive P20,000 cash subsidy per unit per year, adding that the amount given will depend on the excise tax on fuel that the government has collected.
The national government has allocated about P28 million for the PPP cards for this year in the region.
Guro said that they have reduced the number of PPP beneficiaries from 8,500 units to 5,600 as many of the operators had not renewed their PUJ franchises.
The renewal or confirmation of the PUJ franchise is an essential requirement for the inclusion of a PUJ unit to the PPP.
Luzminda Escobidal, a PUJ operator, said the P5,000 cash grant is a laudable effort of the Duterte administration.
“Imagine, you will save up to 5,000 because of the Pantawid Pasada. By next year it will become P20,000. That would be a huge savings for us,” she said.
Escobidal is a member of the P.N. Roa Canitoan Operators Drivers Association (PCODA), a transport group with more than a hundred drivers and 56 PUJs.
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