As oil prices continue to soar for the 10th consecutive week today, transport group PISTON raises concern over the insufficient fuel subsidy recently approved by the Department of Budget Management (DBM) and the national government’s budget priorities.
Around 1.3 million transport workers will share a meager P3 billion one-time fuel subsidy. However, PISTON argued that releasing a one-time fuel subsidy falls far short of addressing the actual financial strain transport workers are facing as fuel prices are predicted to rise until March 2024.
“Hindi rin sapat ang P6,500 na ayuda sa mga traditional PUJ at UVE. Kung pwede palang magbigay ng P10,000 sa mga modernized, bakit hindi na lang pagpantay-pantayin at gawing P10,000 na lang lahat?” noted PISTON National President Mody Floranda.
PISTON is also calling for the expeditious distribution of the fuel subsidy, given the weekly surge in fuel prices. Floranda emphasized, “Dapat bukod pa ang ayuda ng tsuper sa operator dahil kung sa operator lang pinapadaan ang ayuda, natural na magkakaagawan pa sila ng mga tsuper kasi pareho naman silang dumaranas ng krisis ngayon.”
As rice prices also continue to climb, PISTON urges the government to reassess and increase the fuel subsidy to account for the rising costs faced by transport workers grappling with elevated fuel, food, and utility prices.
Furthermore, the group argues that the impact of rising prices is not limited to transport workers; it affects all ordinary Filipinos. The group highlights the growing cost of living, impacting essential expenses such as food and utilities. Commuters are feeling the strain as well, as fare increases are becoming increasingly inevitable.
PISTON reiterates their calls on the government to urgently suspend the Value Added Tax (VAT) and Excise Tax on petroleum products, aiming to immediately alleviate the weight of high fuel prices on consumers. Floranda noted, “Kapag sinuspinde ang mga buwis sa langis, hindi lang mga tsuper ang makikinabang, maging ang mga manggagawang komyuter at mamimili na hindi naman tumataas ang sahod.”
Meanwhile, amidst the ongoing 2024 National Budget deliberations, PISTON urges the government to prioritize the welfare of both transport workers and commuters. They also emphasize the need for transparency regarding government funds, such as Confidential and Intelligence Funds, particularly as many Filipinos are struggling with hunger in the current crisis.
“Lahat na lang ng bigat ng pagbubuwis ay ipinapasa sa mga tulad nating mga manggagawa at konsumer pero hindi natin maramdaman kung saan napupunta. Uhaw na uhaw pa ang mga nasa poder sa limpak-limpak na hindi maipaliwanag na Confidential and Intelligence Funds habang gutom na gutom na ang mga Pilipino sa ayuda at serbisyong panlipunan,” added Floranda.