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For economic concerns, a city father advocates for a state of catastrophe.

CITY OF ILOILO – On Tuesday, a member of this city’s Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) called on the national government to proclaim a state of calamity due to economic reasons.

“For economic reasons, President Rodrigo Duterte should declare a state of calamity and allow local government units to use calamity funds for gasoline subsidies to public transportation groups and other mitigating measures.” In a privilege speech presented at the SP committee on transportation and public utilities’ regular session, Lawyer Romel D. Duron, chairperson of the SP committee on transportation and public utilities, stressed that oil companies must be closely supervised to prevent hoarding.

While the national government has set aside PHP2.5 billion for a gasoline subsidy scheme that will provide financial help or vouchers to public utility drivers and operators countrywide, the councilor stated that it will not be implemented immediately.

Similarly, it is determined by the three-month rule, or when the oil price reaches or exceeds USD80 per barrel based on the Mean of Plats Singapore (MOPS), which is the average of all diesel and gasoline trading transactions as assessed and summarized by Standard and Poor’s Platts, a Singapore-based market wire service.

According to Duron, the price of crude oil, which is currently over USD92 per barrel, might rise to USD130 per barrel if the conflict and sanctions imposed on Russia’s oil exports persist.

Russia produces 12% of the world’s oil and 24% of the world’s natural gas.

“The public transportation sector, particularly tricycle, taxi, and jeepney drivers/operators, has been the most affected and suffering the most as a result of this dispute. “Right now, government action is required to alleviate the impact of global crude prices in the Philippines, particularly in our beloved Iloilo City,” he continued.

In Iloilo City, around 2,538 traditional jeepneys, 2,000 taxis, and 1,800 tricycles serve various routes.

According to Duron, jeepney operators he spoke with indicated that the PHP1,600 expenses they incurred in their business were the same as their earnings.

Jeepney drivers, on the other hand, must pay PHP500 for the border and PHP1,000 to PHP1,100 per day for fuel. They earn PHP1,600 each day on an average of 16 trips.

“They are completely at the mercy of their handlers.” Some operators are dropping their boundary from an average of P500 to as low as PHP350, which is a good thing. “If you’re an operator, your boundary is enough, if not less, to keep your unit running,” he explained.

Duron believes that a one-time gasoline subsidy is insufficient and that in times of crisis, a monthly subsidy is required to avoid a need for fare increases and the resulting domino effect on other commodities.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 1218 on September 10, 2021, extending the country’s state of calamity owing to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) for one year, from September 13, 2021 to September 12, 2022.

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