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Palace hints at expanded fuel subsidy for food transporters

Amid the controversy surrounding its fuel subsidy program for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, Malacañang on Tuesday hinted at expanding the program to include transport groups delivering food products. Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Palace may tap "wealthy" local government units (LGUs) to help shoulder the costs of the subsidy. "Katulad ng nabanggit natin dati, pinag-aaralan natin kung paano ito mapapalawig. May ibang mga grupo tulad ng nagta-transport ng food products. Tinitingnan (natin) kung paano mabigyan din ng tuwirang tulong ang nagta-transport ng mahalagang pangangailangan ng ating bayan," Coloma said in an interview on dzXL radio. (We will study how to expand the fuel subsidy program. Aside from PUV drivers, there are other groups like those transporting food items and basic commodities.) Besides, he said these groups transporting food items use tricycles, which are under the supervision of local governments. "Our wealthier LGUs can help out with their contingency funds because they are also direct stakeholders – they can supervise operations of tricycles," he said. "We cannot force LGUs that have no money to contribute counterpart funds. But the wealthier ones will be encouraged to do so," he added. Meanwhile, Coloma said the Palace's economic managers are expected to submit their recommendations this week on helping groups affected by rising fuel prices. "In a few days we expect them to come up with their recommendations. Within this week our economic managers are expected to submit their recommendations to President Benigno Aquino III," he said. Meanwhile, militant transport groups claimed the fuel subsidy of P1,050 for tricycle and jeep drivers maybe useless when it gets implemented by May. The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) said the P1,050 will likely be negated by upcoming weekly fuel price hikes for the rest of April. — LBG/RSJ, GMA News