ORMOC CITY – To enhance resiliency of, to cushion the impact of the oil price hike on, and to maximize the utilization of machinery and facilities by the local fishing industry, a total of 670 registered and eligible fishermen with motor banca in the municipalities of Leyte benefited from a fuel subsidy program of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the form of “discount cards” during a region-wide caravan that was conducted this week.

The program aims to provide fuel discount to farmers and fisherfolks owning and operating agricultural and fishery machinery individually or through a farmer organization, cooperative, or association (FCAs).

According to Christine Gresola, OIC-Information Officer of BFAR-8, a total of 13 municipality program recipients have already received the said fuel discount cards. The distribution, she said, started on July 5, 2022 in Abuyog, Javier, MacArthur, Dulag, Tanauan, and Palo. It was followed on July 6 in the municipalities of San Miguel, Carigara, Capoocan, and Leyte; and, finally, on July 7 in Isabel, Ormoc City, and Albuera.

Accordingly, a Php 3,000 fuel discount was given to each qualified beneficiary of the program; and that it is a one-time assistance program to be provided to the eligible beneficiaries with the discount amount loaded into a cash card issued in partnership with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and accredited FinTech Partners. Finally, beneficiaries were told to use the cash card to make fuel purchase transactions at partner fuel stations.

At the Ormoc leg of the distribution, City Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez told the first batch of beneficiaries, 90 in all, that, “Kining ingon ani nga mga programa mao ni nagpakita nga ang gobyerno kaapi ninyo,” adding, “It’s one of the sectors nga pinangga gyud sa gobyerno labi na sa atong bag-ong president nga iya gyud ning gikuha nga Department of Agriculture kay gusto gyud niya tutokan.”

The Chairperson of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Conservation, Ormoc City Councilor Lalaine Marcos, and Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, City Councilor Rey Evangelista, together with former City Councilor Tommy Serafica, were also present at the said distribution and imparted messages to the Ormoc recipients.

Personnel from BFAR-8 led by Edmar Kristopher Petallana, Fuel Subsidy Focal Person; the Provincial Fishery Team led by Leodelyn Conejos; and the Universal Storefront Services Corporation (USSC) led by Mharlon Phua, a FinTech accredited partner, were the teams who conducted the distribution in said Leyte towns and will, accordingly, hold the same activity in other parts of Eastern Visayas on behalf of BFAR-8, led by its Regional Director Regional Director Juan Albaladejo. Finally, it is said that the DA has allocated Php 500 million for the fuel subsidy program, as a contingency to ease the oil price hike impact amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and in pursuant to Special Provision No. 20 of the General Appropriation Act for Fiscal Year 2022. (By Gwen Maurillo, EV Mail July 4-10, 2022 Issue)