Research group IBON said that the Php4 billion in fuel subsidies that the Marcos Jr administration is set to disburse is not enough relief for Filipinos, especially the poor, who have been burdened by rising oil prices for the past 10 weeks. There is Php3 billion for 1.3 million public utility drivers and operators and Php1 billion for some 312,000 farmers and fisherfolk.
Diesel prices have increased by Php15/liter and kerosene prices by Php14.25/liter since July 11, while gasoline prices have risen by Php10.05/liter since July 18. This has caused public utility drivers and operators’ incomes to shrink significantly, making the Php3-billion allocation quite insufficient. For instance, IBON estimates that a jeepney driver who uses 30 liters of diesel daily is losing Php449 per day; the Php6,500 subsidy will only cover two weeks of losses. Meanwhile, subsidies for farmers and fisherfolk, amounting to only Php3,000 per recipient, is a meager amount compared to the Php15,000 production subsidy demanded by peasant groups.
IBON said that the subsidies seem large but are only the bare minimum of relief the government is duty-bound to provide. The group said that there should be support not just for the 1.6 million targeted beneficiaries of the two sectors, but also the rest of some 22 million poor and borderline poor families who suffer the effects of unceasing inflation. Also, suspending or removing value-added and excise taxes on petroleum products will immediately moderate prices and tame inflation, said IBON.