Oil firms increase gas prices for 2nd time this weekBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—For the second time this week, local oil firms have jacked up prices of petroleum products to reflect the continued uptrend in the global oil market last week.
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Petron Corp., Total Philippines, Eastern Petroleum and Seaoil Philippines have raised prices of kerosene by P1.50 a liter, diesel by P1.40 a liter, regular gasoline by P1.30 a liter, and of premium gasoline by P1.20 a liter.
For non-calamity areas, the new round of oil price increases took effect starting Thursday while for the so-called calamity areas or those who have been subjected to a price freeze last week, the price hike takes effect only on Friday (August 24). These calamity areas included Metro Manila, Rizal, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Laguna, Bulacan and Cavite.
The latest price adjustment will bring the total increases for this week alone to P3.10 per liter for kerosene products; P3 a liter for premium and regular gasoline; and P2.90 a liter.
Oil companies raised prices of fuel products on Tuesday after it lifted the price freeze they imposed last week in the wake of the powerful monsoon rains that triggered massive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
The price hike last Tuesday—which reflected global oil price increases two weeks ago—allowed oil companies to recover what could have been substantial losses in their operations last week. The price freeze was merely a deferment and not an absorption of the increases.
Meanwhile, the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan slammed on Thursday the second oil price increase for the week, saying that many Filipinos have not recovered from the damage of monsoon rains two weeks ago.
In a statement, the group said that the “retroactive oil price hike” showed corporate greed its worst, while assailing the national government for “not doing anything to address the continuing price hikes.”
“The Aquino government has been eerily silent on the oil companies’ super profits and gross insensitivity to the public’s plight. We’re still recovering from the August deluge but now we’re faced with a deluge of high prices. Even areas previously spared from price hikes will now bear the full brunt of the price increases. Under the deregulation law, there is no such thing as foregone profits. Oil firms will always find ways of justifying price increases,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr.
Bayan also pointed out that the so-called “independent review panel” initiated by the Department of Energy and headed by former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno was supposed to come up with findings last July to answer the question of whether oil firms were “overpricing” their products. The panel vowed to look into allegations of “excessive profits.”
“During this time of rising prices, it would be good to know what the findings are of this so-called independent review panel. It would be good to know if they agree with our findings that the oil firms are guilty of overpricing and super profits. However, we have yet to see any results despite claims by the panel that 70 percent of its work was already complete as early as May,” Reyes said.
Groups such as Bayan have asserted that petroleum products imported by the Philippines are overpriced because of a combination of monopoly pricing by the international cartel and price speculation by commodity traders. Bayan has also alleged that on top of bloated world prices, domestic price movements have been steeper compared to international price movements.
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