Oil firms agree to open their books
Six oil companies belonging to the Philippine Institute of Petroleum (PIP) have expressed willingness to “open their respective books” amid allegations of overpricing and collusion among them.
PIP said its members—Chevron (Philippines), Liquigaz Philippines, Petron, PTT Philippines, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum and Total (Philippines)—would disclose their financial statements in support of President Aquino’s call for transparency.
Member companies have agreed to an additional review despite the fact that they comply with the reportorial requirements of the Department of Energy, the financial protocols of the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the statutory submissions to the Securities and Exchange Commission, PIP said.
“In response to various stakeholders’ allegations of overpricing by oil companies, PIP members expressed their willingness to have their books opened and reviewed in order to provide the public well-studied, accurate and complete information on the issue of oil pricing,” the group said in a statement on Sunday.
Oil firms have also been accused of being slow in reducing prices when oil prices in the international market drop and of being quick to raise prices when oil prices rise.
One of the demands of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), which spearheaded a transport strike on Sept. 19, was a rollback in fuel prices at the time by at least P9 per liter.
Piston said the amount represented the overpricing by oil companies.
The transport group also demanded an end to the imposition of the 12-percent value-added tax (VAT) on oil products and a stop to the implementation of the VAT on toll, which started on Oct. 1.
Piston said a long-term solution to the continued increase in oil prices was the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law (Republic Act No. 8479), which allows giant oil companies to set prices without government approval or control.
In a visit to Cubao, Quezon City, one of the centers of protest during the strike, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas assured protesters that steps were being taken to mitigate the effects of rising fuel prices on consumers and public transport operators.
Roxas said Malacañang would check whether there was collusion among oil firms.
He later said in a statement that President Aquino had formed an interagency task force to investigate the existence of any such arrangement.
PIP urged other oil firms to heed Mr. Aquino’s “call for openness and transparency by also opening their books.”
It warned, however, that any additional review should have well-defined objectives.
The group said the review should take into consideration the views and opinions of various sectors.
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