The government is expected to announce its “specific” plans and programs to address the soaring prices of fuel, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

This developed after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., during the 11th Cabinet meeting held at Malacañan Palace on Tuesday, looked into the persistent calls for the suspension of excise tax on petroleum products.

In a Palace press briefing, Press Secretary officer-in-charge Cheloy Garafil said Marcos and his Cabinet are eyeing several “options” to mitigate the impact of fuel price hikes on the public transport sector.

Nagku-consider sila ng mga option and in time, mag-a-announce sila ng mga (They are considering options, and in time, they will announce) specific plans and programs to address that issue,” she said.

Garafil, however, did not give other details about the government’s plans.

Several transport groups on Sunday reiterated its plea for the government to suspend the collection of excise tax on petroleum products for three to four months.

The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines president Ricardo Rebaño said the suspension is a “win-win solution,” noting that it is a better solution than imposing another round of fare hike that will merely burden the commuters.

Following the signing of Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN Law), the government is currently imposing an excise tax rate of PHP10 per liter for gasoline and PHP6 per liter for diesel.

Last week, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Leody Tarriela filed a bill aimed at cushioning the impact of high gasoline and diesel prices by applying progressive excise taxation on fuel.

Under Tarriela’s House Bill 3628, the excise tax shall gradually decrease as fuel prices increase.

The bill proposes that if the price per liter for unleaded premium gasoline is PHP50 or less, the excise tax shall be at PHP10. It shall gradually decrease by PHP1 for every PHP5 increase in per liter prices, until the excise tax reaches only PHP4 when the price per liter is PHP75 or higher.

For diesel, the excise tax is pegged at PHP6 if the price per liter is PHP50 or less.

On the other hand, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian reiterated the call to institutionalize fuel subsidy to ensure that affected sectors will survive every time there is a fuel hike.

Kung meron na sana tayong batas para sa ayuda ng mga tsuper at operator ng public utility vehicles, hindi na sila mahihirapan pang pasanin ang bigat ng epekto ng pagtaas ng presyo ng langis lalo na’t patuloy din ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin (If we have a law to support drivers and operators of public utility vehicles, they will be able to cope up with the oil price hikes as well as those of their basic needs),” Gatchalian said in a statement.

He urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and other concerned agencies to assure an efficient and timely fuel subsidy program for affected sectors should price hikes continue.

Gatchalian earlier filed Senate Bill No. 384 to institutionalize the fuel subsidy program Pantawid Pasada (Transport Assistance).

The bill provides that the subsidy shall be granted to qualified beneficiaries when the average price of Dubai crude for three consecutive months is equal to or greater than USD80 per barrel such as the case now.

Dubai crude was last traded at USD95.80 per barrel.

On Tuesday, diesel prices rose by as much PHP6.85 per liter; and gasoline and kerosene prices by PHP1.20 and PHP3.50 per liter, respectively. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)

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