Delivery services look to fuel discounts to get riders through rising pump prices

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Delivery services look to fuel discounts to get riders through rising pump prices
This 2021 file photo shows a Grab delivery rider
The Freeman, file

MANILA, Philippines — Two local delivery service providers are relying on private oil firms to provide fuel discounts for their riders amid continuous oil price hikes.

Riders' advocacy group Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong), composed of 3,000 members nationwide, said this measure will help in tiding over the fuel price increases, but added that full support is guaranteed if the Philippine government steps in to suspend fuel excise taxes and roll out subsidies for the sector.

This week, domestic oil firms announced yet another round of fuel price hikes driven by tight global supply. Gasoline rose by P0.9 per liter, diesel increased by P0.8 per liter and kerosene went up by P0.75 per liter for the ninth straight week of 2022.

"Actually 'yung unleaded [fuel] ay umaabot na ng P70 per liter doon sa mga malalaking oil companies...So, medyo gipit kami sa ganoong sitwasyon na tumataas 'yung cost namin sa gasolina pero hindi naman tumataas 'yung kita namin. So iyan ang isang major problem," Kagulong Secretary-General Don Pangan told Philstar.com in a Zoom call.

(Actually, big oil firms are already selling unleaded fuel for P70 per liter...We're kind of in a tight spot in this situation because the cost of gas is going up, but our profits aren't increasing either. That's one major problem.)

Online food delivery service Foodpanda Philippines (foodpanda) said it continues to ramp up its efforts to cushion the impact of rising gas prices by tying up with oil companies, which are committed to giving fuel discounts to their riders. 

"We already have existing partnerships with several fuel providers, including Seaoil, Caltex, Phoenix and Unioil, which is set to enhance its fuel discount to foodpanda riders up to P10 per liter starting March 1. We look forward to providing this exclusive discount plus many other benefits to our Ka-Panda riders, as we continue to support them through these challenging times," foodpanda told Philstar.com through its public relations department over email. 

"The welfare of foodpanda’s partners, especially our thousands of Ka-Panda riders on the road, is our top concern amidst the oil price hike," it added. 

Meanwhile, Grab Philippines (Grab), which provides transportation, food delivery and parcel delivery services, said that their current partnerships with fuel companies will greatly benefit riders. 

"Our driver- and delivery-partners enjoy fuel discounts from our partner fuel companies as part of our Ka-Grab Rewards Plus program. We are optimistic that our ongoing fuel discounts offered by our [program] is a great help to our partners during these challenging times," Grab told Philstar.com through its official communications partner over email.

Grab riders who reach the minimum number of target rides can avail of the Ka-Grab Rewards program, which offers exclusive benefits such as fuel vouchers, free eye consultations and hospital reimbursements, among others. 

Throughout the pandemic, customers have also been encouraging each other to tip their riders with cash.

'Government can assure full support for riders'

As of the first week of March, delivery service riders and other members of the public have to shell out P9.65 more per liter for gasoline; P11.65 more per liter of diesel; and P10.3 more per liter of kerosene.

For Pangan, the partnerships between delivery service firms and oil firms in providing discounts will help riders who always have to shoulder the weekly fuel price increases. 

"Makakatulong iyan pero 'yung mismong kumpanya nagmamakaawa sa mga oil companies. That's a dole-out eh para sa amin...Para sa amin, mas sigurado at mas talagang mas 100% makakatulong sa riders kung mismong gobyerno ang magbabayad ng fuel subsidy," he said. 

(That will help but it's like the companies are begging oil companies to provide discounts. That's like a dole out...For us, we can get 100% help for riders if the government pays for the fuel subsidy.)

The government sought to provide targeted assistance to sectors affected by the fuel price hikes, such as implementing the Pantawid Pasada Program which distributes fuel cards to subsidize the public transportation sector and a direct cash subsidy program under the "Bayanihan To Recover As One Act 2", which expired in end 2021.

Last month, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the state has allotted P2.5 billion for a fuel subsidy program under the transportation department which seeks to provide financial aid and fuel vouchers to qualified full-time ride-hailing delivery service drivers, PUVs, taxis and tricycles, as identified and validated by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

Pangan also echoed Vice President Leni Robredo's earlier call to suspend the fuel excise taxes prescribed by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. The excise tax on gasoline is currently at P10 per liter, P6 per liter for diesel, and P5 per liter for kerosene.

Under the law, excise taxes for petroleum products may only be halted if the average price of Dubai crude oil reaches or exceeds $80 a barrel over a three-month period. Oil was at more than $100 per barrel as of March 2.

Robredo, who is running for the president as an independent candidate in the May elections, received Kagulong's backing because of her "commitment to the riders' agenda and her track record of participatory good governance."

Lalamove Philippines has declined comment for this report.

Philstar.com reached out to other delivery service providers such as J&T Express Philippines and Angkas, but they have not yet replied as of press time. 

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