By Felix N. Codilla
ORMOC CITY, May 15 (PNA) — Councilor Bennet Pongos will call for another round of inquiry on Ormoc’s fuel prices after the city council received a letter reply from the Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB) confirming that oil prices hereabouts is higher compared to Cebu and Tacloban Cities.
OIMB Director Rodela I. Romero bared in her letter that city consumers have been paying more for fuel than those from key cities of the Visayas even before oil prices have been deregulated.
A comparative price presentation showed that on February 1996, gasoline and diesel prices were highest in Ormoc at PHP9.77 and PHP7.30, respectively, followed by Tacloban (PHP 9.70 and PHP7.23). The lowest rates were in Cebu (PHP9.65 and PHP7.19).
The situation has not changed much nowadays with Ormoc still registering the highest prices of PHP 46.50 and PHP 34.60 for gasoline and diesel, respectively, as of April 14, 2015. This was followed by Roxas City at PHP45 and PHP34.50 while Cebu remains to be the lowest at PHP 39.96 and PHP 29.38.
Romero noted that there is only one bulk plant in Ormoc operated by Petron. This means that with the exception of Petron, retail outlets of other companies in Ormoc are served by the bulk plants of Shell and Caltex in Tacloban.
Independent brands, for their part, source their supply either from the bulk plant of Jetti Petroleum in Carigara town or in Cebu.
“Although Petron dealers may have an advantage of lower delivery cost in Ormoc, it would be a wise business decision on their part to match the higher prices of fuel brands coming from Tacloban and outside sources,” Romero points out in her letter.
“For Petron to reflect lower delivery cost of fuels in Ormoc would mean driving away or practically killing the competition. This would result to a Petron monopoly of [the] Ormoc fuel market. If this scenario prevails, who could stop Petron from raising its prices to an even higher level considering that the expected resulting retail price ranges are even higher than the actual prices?” she asked.
But Pongos, who is chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Industry, is not satisfied by the response, saying he wants to know why fuel prices are lower in Baybay and Maasin Cities where there are no bulk plants and fewer gasoline stations in operation.
A comparison among the three cities based on May 5 prices showed that Ormoc has the most expensive gasoline and diesel at PHP50.09 and PHP35.49, respectively. On the other hand, Baybay registered PHP49.70 and PHP35.35, and Maasin PHP47.85 and PHP31.50.(PNA)