Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday proposed to give public utility drivers P3,000-worth of financial aid per month for the next five months to help them cope with rising fuel prices.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate energy committee, said providing financial assistance to PUV drivers costs less to the government compared to suspending excise tax on fuel, as some groups propose.
The reelected lawmaker said government could lose about P150 billion in the next six months if excise tax on fuel is suspended.
"My proposal is to give at least P3,000 a month for our public utility drivers in the next five months. That will cost approximately about P4 billion. So it's still quite cheaper compared to suspending excise tax on fuel," Gatchalian told ANC.
While the P3,000 monthly cash assistance may be small, Gatchalian believes it can cover the take home pay of PUV drivers at P80 per liter of gasoline and diesel and encourage them to return to work.
Along with the financial subsidy for PUV drivers, free transportation for commuters through the service contracting program also helps in alleviating the negative impact of the rising fuel prices.
President-elect Bongbong Marcos earlier said that he was also more inclined to provide ayuda to those affected by the rising oil prices than suspend the excise tax on fuel products.
Fuel prices have been on the rise since the beginning of the year as a result of the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which causes disruptions in global trade.
Last week, Russian Ambassador Marat Pavlov met with Marcos and assured him that Russia is ready to assist the Philippines in tempering rising fuel prices and address other issues concerning the energy sector.