‘Force oil firms to cut prices’

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MALACANANG was urged yesterday to compel oil companies to bring down the cost of their gasoline and diesel products by P5 more per liter after the National Economic Development Authority earlier recommended a similar move.

The call was made by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and party-list Reps. Joel Villanueva (CIBAC), Florencio “Bem” Noel (An Waray) and Mujiv Hataman (Anak Mindanaw), noting that NEDA Director General Ralph Recto asked oil companies to roll back the prices of their petroleum products by at least P5 a liter.

Revilla cited the apparent “inaction” of the Department of Energy in urging the oil companies to reduce fuel prices in the wake of declining oil costs on the world market.

“The DOE has lot of explaining to do to the oil consumers. The lack of an oil price rollback this past week is a big question mark to the public.” Revilla said as he lambasted oil companies for their refusal to roll back their pump prices.

“Our people deserve a break. If these oil companies continue to refuse to adjust their pump prices according to prevailing market prices, we will not be able to help the general sentiment that the public is being taken advantage of,” he said.

He made the remark on the report of the oil industry watchdog Consumer and Oil Price Watch (COPW) that oil firms overcharge oil prices by P8 per liter.

Based on COPW computations, imported diesel should cost P36.43 per liter, using the average price of four-week inventory, instead of P44.62 per liter which was asserted by the local oil companies.

Revilla said that the DOE should explain to the public why it did not push for the reduction of the oil prices in the local market to arrest long time suspicion that there is oil price monopoly in the country. “Lack of explanation will further enflame public furor,” he said.

He noted that the average Dubai crude price last April was $103.47 per barrel or P4,327 per barrel at the prevailing exchange rate of P41.82 per dollar at that time. The pump prices then were P47.96 per liter of gasoline and P40.94 per liter of diesel.

“Now, the average Dubai crude price is $90 per barrel or P4,233.60 per barrel at the exchange rate of P47.04 per dollar. The pump price of gasoline is P50.07 per liter while diesel is at P48.98 per liter,” Revilla pointed out.

As an alter ego of the President, the congressmen said Recto, a former lawmaker, made the appeal on behalf of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo “who appeared to be the one urging the oil companies to bring down the prices of their products.”

“Malacañang should now do its best to compel these oil firms to roll back the prices of their petroleum products by at least P5,” Villanueva said.

Noel and Hataman said the P5 rollback will be a big help to the country, especially to public utility drivers and other poor Filipinos who are “bearing the brunt of the present crisis.”

“The government must insist on this rollback to help ease the sufferings of the Filipinos,” they said.

Recto cited the continuing decline in the world prices of oil for the rollback of petroleum products in the Philippines by at least P44 or P45 a liter.

The congressmen said Recto’s pronouncement should be a signal for the Department of Energy to immediately initiate action to compel oil companies to bring down the prices of their products.