MANILA, PHILIPPINES (BNO NEWS) — The Philippine government on Thursday approved fuel subsidies for a month to public transport as a nationwide transport strike paralyzed many parts of the country.
President Benigno Aquino III told reports that the government allocated 500 million Philippine pesos ($ 11.52 million) as fuel subsidy for public utility vehicles, except buses, to help ease the financial burden arising from the rising fuel costs influenced by the unrest in several oil-rich Middle Eastern countries.
Private transport franchises will be given smart cards that they could use to obtain the discounts at petrol stations. “For a period of at least one month, we will provide about P500 million so at least all of these vehicles with the necessary franchises will be able to avail it,” Aquino told reporters.
After one month, the government will assess the project implementation and determine whether it is effective and then decide if the project should get more funding or be discontinued. The President added however that the project implementation depends on the volatility of fuel prices abroad.
Thousands of drivers on Thursday protested the continued hike in oil prices and demanded government subsidies. The militant transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operaytors Nationwide (PISTON) said the government’s decision is proof that the transport caravan it led was successful.
Police said at least 1,000 protesters participated in the transport caravan in Manila, but did not affect commuters in the metropolis. In the northern city of Angeles, however, the transport strike was strongly felt, while in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao public transportation was 94 percent paralyzed.
Photo from www.metropolitanmanila.com