AS oil prices surge higher, vice-presidential aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Wednesday demanded the immediate release of the P8 billion in fuel subsidy to farmers, fisherfolk, and drivers allocated in the 2022 national budget.
Pangilinan, who expanded the coverage of the fuel subsidy program in the General Appropriations Act of 2022 to include taxi, tricycle, and ride-hailing and delivery services, said, “May pera sa budget. Kailangan na lang i-release. Gawin na ito ASAP.”
“Hirap na hirap na ang ating mga kababayan. Kailangan ng agarang aksyon,” he said, repeating his call for a crisis manager who will avert the impending fuel and food crises that are the result of the Ukraine-Russia war.
The fuel subsidy program, which shall provide financial assistance/fuel vouchers to workers in the transportation and agriculture sectors when world oil price reaches or exceeds $80 per barrel, has a total budget of P8 billion in the 2022 GAA: P2.5 billion under the Department of Transportation, P500 million under the Department of Agriculture, and P5 billion in the Unprogrammed Appropriations).
Without Pangilinan’s amendment, which was subsequently approved by the Senate and then both Houses of Congress, the fuel subsidy program will only cover public utility jeepneys and buses.
The Senate also approved Pangilinan’s amendment to increase the budget for the program from P5 billion to P10 billion, but this was not carried in the bicameral version of the 2022 national budget bill.
Due to the Ukraine-Russia war, it is projected that fuel prices may jump to as high as P77 per liter for gasoline and P73 for diesel, a Department of Energy (DOE) official said on Monday, using data from analysts.
In the international market, the Brent crude shot up to over US$105 per barrel last week, the highest on record since 2014, following Russia’s offensives against Ukraine.
Based on data and projections from the Mean of Platts Singapore, which is an average set of oil product price assessments, the price of oil per barrel may reach as much as US$120 this year, according to the DOE official.
As of February 24, the average price per liter of gasoline stood at P65.05, diesel at P57.45 and kerosene at P62.84 in Manila, the DOE said.
As of February 22, the year-to-date adjustments of petroleum products stood at a total net increase of P8.75 per liter for gasoline, P10.85 per liter for diesel and P9.55 per liter for kerosene, the DOE said.