Romualdez eyes talks with oil firms on frequent price hikes
MANILA, Philippines — After going after rice hoarders, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez now plans to talk with oil companies amid consecutive price increases.
The leader of the House of Representatives said he is considering meeting with oil firms to discuss possible concessions as fuel costs soared to more than P65 a liter since several weeks ago.
The latest rise in oil prices was 40 centavos per liter for diesel and 20 centavos per liter for gasoline. The hike took effect on September 12.
“The government is not insensitive to the sentiments of our people, especially since this carries a domino effect on all products in the market,” Romualdez said in a statement Tuesday.
“We all know that once the prices of oil rise, everything else shoots up – except the wages and salaries of our workers,” he added.
Romualdez recognized that prices of petroleum in the world market have increased. But he also said fuel sold in the market today might be old inventories – or stocks purchased by oil companies when prices were still lower.
“It is common knowledge that oil companies still sell supplies bought at lower prices before the costs of crude oil in the world market increased. Baka pwede nating mapakiusapan sila na ‘wag na munang magtaas ng presyo (Maybe we can ask them not to raise the price yet),” the Speaker said.
Over the 10 weeks of fuel cost hikes, diesel and gasoline prices rose to as much as P15 a liter and P10 a liter, respectively.
The price of cooking gas also increased for 2nd month in a row in September by as much as P6.65 per kilogram.
Romualdez also admitted that the Oil Deregulation Law has contributed to high fuel prices in the country. He said the law has kept the government from interceding during sustained oil price increases.
The Speaker said Congress might review the Oil Deregulation Law if it is necessary to bring down the prices of petroleum.
“This is one of our problems, the Oil Deregulation Law that contributed to the high petroleum prices. It ties our hands. We don’t want to impose on them (oil firms), but we also want to know if they can help alleviate our suffering,” Romualdez explained.
“We want to hear from them what can they do to help in this kind of situation, and if indeed they are willing to help at all because these oil price hikes have been a burden to our kababayans (compatriots),” he added.
Previously, Romualdez joined several raids launched by the Bureau of Customs against warehouses in Bulacan that allegedly hoarded imported rice.
According to him, traders bought the rice at a lower price and had intended to sell it at a higher price once world market prices increased – prompting him to ask the dealers to release the stocks and moderate their greed.
The raids happened as rice prices surged, and the government scurried to stabilize the situation.
“I think it would be better if we help each other soften the impact of these oil price increases because we want these products to be affordable. People have been bearing the brunt of this situation for a long time now,” Romualdez said Tuesday.