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Another oil price hike in the offing

Brace for a new round of steep increases in pump prices to reflect the situation in the world oil market, with diesel prices expected to up by as much as P1.50 a liter.

READ: Rising oil prices, inflation to cut 2019 growth to 6%

“Expect fuel prices to go up again next week,” said Unioil Philippines. “Diesel should go up by P1.40 to P1.50 per liter while gasoline should increase by P0.70 to P0.80 per liter.”

World oil prices have been on the upswing due to the US sanctions against Iran, which could reduce supply.

There were also reports that global prices would go up last week after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries did not increase output following an unofficial gathering in Algeria.

On Oct. 2, the oil firms raised the price of diesel by P1.35 per liter, gasoline by P1 per liter and kerosene by P1.10 per liter.

This is the eighth consecutive weekly increase for gasoline and 6th consecutive weekly increase for diesel.

READ: Oil prices still rising: 7th straight week now

Department of Energy data showed that year-to-date total adjustments stand at a net increase of P10.40 per liter for gasoline, P10.70 per liter for diesel and P9.35 per liter for kerosene.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has assured the public that the agency is exhausting all options to mitigate rising fuel prices and called for the practice of fuel efficiency measures.

The Philippines is a net importer of oil products, which means that the country’s fuel supply is generally sourced from abroad, making the country vulnerable to changes in international oil price markets.

“Despite global forces affecting the country’s fuel prices, we are in constant communication with the oil industry players on how we can help the public amid the global oil situation,” Cusi said.

“We’ve been exploring higher and expanded fuel discounts to public utility vehicles, looking at nearby countries for lower priced supply and even went to unpopular options to ensure that consumers are protected from the impact of this global price situation.”

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, meanwhile, called on the Department of Energy and the Department of Justice to assemble a task force to investigate unreasonable oil price hikes in some provinces as the inflation rate rose to a nine-year high of 6.7 percent in September.

“The government should immediately take action if there are reports of any unreasonable hikes in prices of petroleum products,” he said.

He noted that the task force plays a big role in holding erring businesses accountable, especially since oil firms belong to a deregulated industry.

To ensure fair competition, he said cartelization—or any concerted action by refiners, importers and dealers to fix oil prices—may be penalized with a fine ranging from P1 million to P2 million and three to seven years imprisonment under the law.

While no government agency is vested with the authority to control the price of petroleum in the country, the law provides for safeguards and remedies to protect consumers from abusive practices of oil firms, he said.

News reports said pump prices of gasoline in Odiongan, Romblon have surged to as high as P71.17 per liter, and diesel at P57.46.

In Metro Manila, gasoline prices average P58.90 per liter, and diesel at P48.35 per liter.

Higher prices were also registered in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, where gasoline is at P62.70 per liter, and diesel at P49.90 per liter.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon renewed his call to suspend TRAIN 1, which he blamed for the high prices of basic commodities. He warned of continuing increases if new excise taxes on fuel provided by the law are not suspended.

“No need to wait for three months. The President has the power to suspend the excise on oil,” Drilon said.

He said the President can ask a resolution from both Houses of Congress on the matter, and “Congress will give it to him.”

“He can certify a joint resolution to suspend the excise tax [on fuel]. He can do this because he has enough political clout. He can do it in just a day,” Drilon said in Filipino.

READ: Oil firms reverse gears, cut prices

Topics: Alfonso Cusi , Oil price hike , Unioil Philippines , Department of Energy , Department of Justice , Franklin Drilon , TRAIN Law
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