Domestic pump prices will likely go up by as much as P1.20 per liter for fuel prices this week to reflect the movement of prices in the world oil market.
This developed as BAYAN Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate dared Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to ask President Rodrigo Duterte to certify House Bill 4711 to regulate the oil industry.
He urged fellow lawmakers to fast track the hearings of the bill, saying: "With another big-time oil price hike in the offing, it is imperative that the downstream oil industry be again placed under regulation to protect our much-burdened consumers."
Unioil Petroleum Philippines announced over the weekend gasoline would increase by P1.10 to P1.20 per liter while diesel will increase by P0.40 to P0.50 per liter.
The move will trigger the ninth weekly consecutive oil price hike due to the tight supply of oil products in the global market.
World oil prices went up by P8.65 per liter for diesel and P7.20 perliter for gasoline for the past eight weeks alone.
On October 19, the oil companies implemented a price increase in domestic oil products of P1.80 per liter for gasoline, P1.40 to P1.50 per liter for diesel and P1.30 per liter for kerosene.
These resulted in the year-to-date adjustments to stand at a total net increase of P19.65 per liter for gasoline, P18 per liter for diesel and P15.49 per liter for kerosene.
The Department of Energy has monitored that improving COVID-19 situation, easing of mobility restrictions and re-opening of borders by many countries fueled the prospects of higher oil demand.
It said re-opening of borders and resumption of interstate travel in Thailand and Malaysia, respectively, added to bullish market sentiment.
Lower gasoline exports from China that are likely to persist through the fourth quarter also continues to tighten the Asian gasoline market.
Zarate said: "This week's increase has added a total P8.65 a liter to diesel pump prices. Since the start of 2021, diesel has seen a net increase of P18 a liter. Gasoline prices now totaled P7.20 a liter.
Gasoline also saw a net increase of P19.70 a liter since the start of the year.
“Next week, another peso would be added. Next week would be the ninth straight week of oil price increases. This is too much especially since many consumers are now jobless and others are under employed."
He said oil deregulation had allowed oil price increases to go unchecked.
With petroleum as a sensitive commodity, because price directly affects the cost of almost all other commodities and services, as well as transportation, deregulation has given transnational oil corporations even more leeway to influence the country’s cost of living, livelihoods, business and commerce, employment, and the national budget, he lamented.
"There is a pressing need to regulate the oil industry to protect the majority of Filipinos from current runaway increases in oil prices,” he said.
“Regulation can only be effective and truly beneficial if it is part of a program to institutionalize national oil industrialization, so that local oil prices can be brought down from unreasonable and unjustifiable levels set by giant transnational oil corporations and can be prevented from falling prey to further monopoly pricing and manipulation," he added.
House Bill 4711 requires the regulation of the petroleum industry through the creation of a petroleum regulatory council and a buffer fund which shall instead solely serve to cushion the impact on consumers against drastic increases in petroleum prices, unlike the oil price stabilization fund that reimbursed oil companies for ‘cost under-recoveries, according to Cusi.
"We now challenge Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi to ask President Duterte to certify House Bill 4711 to again regulate the downstream oil industry as well as the unbundling of oil prices that we called to be done since 2018," he said.
"We hope that now the House leadership and the Department of Energy would truly push for the speedy approval of this bill so that we can help our countrymen," he noted.
Meanwhile, amid the soaring oil prices in the global market, the DOE conducted last Thursday quality and quantity spot inspections in gas stations in Metro Manila.
The DOE-Oil Industry Management Bureau carried out the inspections.
Among those which underwent sampling by the DOE team were the Clean Fuel station along Kamagong St. and the Ramon P. Torres Petron Service Center in San Antonio, Makati.
"It is unfortunate that the current surges in oil prices are caused by factors beyond our control. However, the DOE is committed to helping our consumers, and one way to do this is to ensure that petroleum products in our domestic market meet both national quality and quantity standards,” Cusi said in a statement.
As part of the inspection, 10 liters of gasoline samples were collected and placed in a calibrating canister to determine the quantity, while 1 liter each of gasoline samples were collected in bottles to determine their quality, following the sampling and testing procedures prescribed by the Philippine National Standards on Petroleum.
Results showed that both gas stations passed the calibration test for fuel quantity. The samples have likewise been forwarded to the Department's Energy Research and Testing Laboratories for quality and confirmatory testing.
The DOE team also checked the overall condition of dispensing pumps and facilities as well as the required Certificate of Compliance of the gas stations.
The DOE issues COCs to gas stations, otherwise known as liquid fuel retail outlets, proven to be compliant with the “Rules and Regulations Governing the Business of Retailing Liquid Fuels”.
"We conduct these spot inspections to ensure our consumers get their money's worth, especially since we are still in a battle against COVID-19. Every centavo counts,” Cusi said.
“This is also why we place high value on the attainment of energy security, as we no longer want to be at the mercy of global market volatilities," he added.