Pantawid Pasada: Gov't reaches out to critics

The government will continue to reach out to groups from the transport sector criticizing the issuance of an executive order granting assistance to jeepneys and tricycles in mitigating the impact of high oil prices, MalacaƱang's communications website posted Thursday.

President Benigno Aquino III issued the Executive Order 32 this week authorizing the release of a P450,000 million assistance to jeepney and tricycle drivers.

Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston), one of the groups of jeepney operators in the country, reportedly opposed the issuance of the order, arguing that scrapping the value added tax imposed on petroleum products will be more effective in easing the burden of the transport brought about by the continuing rise in fuel prices.

“We will continue to explain (the President’s move to grant subsidy) because it is the responsibility of the government. We will not hesitate and stop in explaining our position and hoping that we will try to address the concerns of our people,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in the press conference on Thursday at Malacanang.

Dialogues between the government and groups from the transport sector have been continuing, Lacierda said. He added that Energy Secretary Rene Almendras regularly monitors the global oil prices and comes up with commutations and shares it with the transport sector.

“He (Almendras) continues to explain about the increase of oil in the world market. He shows it to the members of the transport industry, the increases in the oil price. And like what you said it is a global phenomenon,” Lacierda said.

“So I don’t think there’s shortcoming from us in explaining. Maybe Piston thinks that it [subsidy] wasn’t enough but this is one of the most direct means of helping those affected sectors owing to the increase in oil prices,” he stressed.

Government’s economic managers opposed the removal of VAT on oil believing that this is not the right solution to the problem since it can’t provide direct shield to the vulnerable sectors.

Although Piston’s leadership rejected the assistance, Lacierda said he believes members of the group will accept the support being offered by the government because it could help them ease the burden of high fuel price.

“We believed that even they rejected it as a matter of policy, but individual members of Piston certainly would avail the assistance program of the government,” he reportedly said.