By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
ABOUT half of the owners of public jeepneys in the region have yet to receive the fuel subsidy intended for them and their drivers when it was introduced by the national government last year, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said yesterday.
Among the issues raised by transport groups are the delay in the distribution of the cards and the legal documents required for operators to avail of the government’s fuel subsidy.
Northern Mindanao has more than 7,000 jeepneys and about 50 percent of the operators have yet to avail of the “Pantawid Pasada,” the nationwide program launched by the Department of Transportation in August 2018 to help jeepney drivers and operators cope with the rising cost of fuel.
LTFRB regional director Aminoden Guro said they are making efforts to have the fuel subsidy cards be given to all the operators the soonest possible time.
The agency has partnered with the Land Bank of the Philippines for the distribution of the cards to the operators, who are expected to give a share of the fuel allocation to their drivers.
Each card, specific only to a particular jeepney unit, contains P5,000 worth of fuel which can only be used by the jeepney operators and drivers.
Also printed on the card is the name of franchise holder, plate number of jeepney, region where the franchise was issued, and card number.
Recently, the National Confederation of Transport Union (NCTU) here raised the concern to the LTFRB that some of their members have not received their cards.
NCTU in Northern Mindanao has around 5,000 members.
In a meeting with NCTU regional coordinator Joel Gabatan on Tuesday, Guro explained that the releasing of the cards is done by batches and that some of the NCTU members are in the fourth batch.
In an interview Wednesday, Gabatan said another issue that they want the LTFRB to look into is the policy of requiring old owners of jeepneys to sign a special power of attorney that would allow the new owners to avail of the fuel subsidy cards.
But Gabatan said this has posed numerous problems especially to old jeepneys owners who are no longer residing in the area or those who are simply not interested to sign the SPA considering that they have already sold their jeepney units to somebody else.
He said the new jeepneys owners are put at a disadvantage since they cannot avail of the fuel subsidy card if the original owners are no longer around since they have moved to a new location or to another country and cannot sign the SPA.
Gabatan said the best way to hasten the distribution of the cards to the new owners is for the LTFRB to change the requirement from SPA to deed of sale.
“The deed of sale is proof enough that the PUJ has already been sold to the new owner,” he said.
For his part, Guro said his office is amenable to Gabatan’s suggestion as it would also help them speed up the release of the fuel subsidy cards.
That proposal is achievable, Guro said, provided the vendor and the vendee have their identification documents attached on the document together with their verified signatures.
The regional director said the identification and signatures of the concerned persons are very important as Land Bank has a strict policy of authenticating the identities of both parties before it could release the card.
Guro said that for this year, the government would allocate a P25,000-fuel subsidy per jeepney, although there is no final agreement forged between the transportation department and Land Bank yet regarding the release timeline of Pantawid Pasada program’s second wave.