Transport group PISTON said that the P0.50 per liter diesel rollback is futile in the face of soaring inflation. To ease this, the group seeks the immediate suspension of VAT and excise tax on fuel and basic commodities as well as substantial hikes on emergency cash aid such as the Pantawid Pasada fuel subsidy program of the DOTr.
“Bukod sa matagal na naming panawagan na tanggalin ang VAT at excise tax sa langis, pinapakita lang ng paglobo ng presyo ng mga bilihin na napapanahon na rin talaga ang agaran at mas malawak na pamamahagi ng ayuda para agarang maiwasan ang pagdausdos ng kabuhayan ng mga tsuper, maliliit na operator, at ng milyon-milyong mahihirap na Pilipino,” said PISTON National President Mody Floranda.
The country’s inflation rate soared to a 14-year high 7.7 percent in October 2022. In response to this, the Marcos Jr. administration said they included a P206.5 billion fund for ayuda in the 2023 National Budget. This includes a P2.5 billion fuel subsidy for 377,443 jeepney, UV, taxi, TNVS, and trike drivers. But for PISTON, fuel subsidies should be further expanded to include all PUV transport workers since the prices of fuel are still expensive and food prices are still rising. PISTON estimates there are currently around 2 million PUV transport workers nationwide that should be allotted with fuel subsidies.
The group also slammed the P206.5 billion ayuda budget, saying that this is a misleading ‘PR stunt’ by Marcos Jr. aimed to show that his government is taking concrete steps to ease the effects of inflation on poor Filipinos. Budgets for cash assistance programs were in fact cut by P33 billion in the proposed 2023 national budget. A huge chunk of the 2023 budget is still allotted for debt-servicing programs, as well as confidential funds and unprogrammed funds in the Office of the President, Office of the Vice President, and various agencies.
“Itong mga maanomalyang bilyon-bilyong pondo na ito, dapat ilaan na lang dapat sa ayuda at tulong pinansyal sa mahihirap. Kung gusto talaga ni Marcos Jr. na solusyonan ang patuloy na paglobo ng inflation, pangunahin dapat pagaanin ang bigat nito sa mamamayan. Agarang aksyon ang kailangan gaya ng mabilisang pamamahagi ng ayuda, pagpapababa ng presyo ng langis at bilihin, at umento sa sahod ng mga manggagawa!” added Floranda.