This bit of news could not have come at a better time for our public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators, as they are the ones most affected by the big-time oil price hike imposed this week.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) together with Landbank, is in the process of distributing the much-needed PHP 6,500 worth of fuel subsidy to help alleviate the sky-high costs of oil prices.

According to LTFRB, some PUV operators and drivers with existing fuel subsidy cards have started to receive the amount on their accounts since yesterday, and bus operators are next to get the subsidy beginning today.

Furthermore, additional fuel subsidy cards are expected to be ready for distribution starting next week once card printing has finished. This is for other beneficiaries that were not part of the last fuel subsidy rollout based on the LTFRB's database.

On the other hand, tricycle drivers and delivery riders not included in the regulatory powers of the LTFRB have to wait a little longer, as the regulatory board said they are still waiting for the beneficiary list to come from the DILG and DTI. However, LTFRB said they will provide assistance with regard to facilitating the subsidy distribution.

The Service Contracting Program gave performance-based incentives for drivers and operators of PUVs, and at the same time brought free rides for commuters when Metro Manila was previously placed under tight movement restrictions due to the pandemic. And now, the LTFRB has mentioned they are expecting the release of funds from the Department of Budget Management (DBM) to resume the Service Contracting Program soon.

With that said, the fuel subsidy might only give temporary relief for our PUV operators and drivers, but every bit of assistance from the government would be gladly welcomed, especially in these trying times.