By Genalyn Kabiling
The country’s high oil prices have become a “crisis” but will likely be “temporary” amid the planned increase in output from the world’s top crude producers, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said they expect the oil prices to fall with Russia and United States have reportedly agreed to raise oil production.
“Hindi naman permanente itong nangyayaring krisis. Talaga naman pong krisis. Nakakaabala ang pagtaas ng presyo dahil mahigit 200 percent ang tinaas ng presyo [The crisis happening is not permanent. It is really a crisis. The oil price hike is disturbing because of the 200 percent increase in prices],” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
“Hindi natin yan inaasahan dahil medyo stable naman ng presyo ng krudo pero temporary lang ito. Tingnan natin pangyayari. Gaya ng sinabi ko, ang Russia nag-increase ng supply nila. Pati ang Estados Unidos biglang nag-increase ng exports nila ng krudo [We did not expect it because the oil prices were stable but this will be temporary. Let’s wait for the development. As I said, Russia increased its supply. Even the United States increased its oil exports,” he added.
Roque recognized that life has become hard amid the rising oil prices but assured the government was taking steps to ease the impact of the people.
He said the President is expected to convene a Cabinet meeting on June 11 to tackle “alleviation measures” such as possibility of importing from cheaper oil products from countries not members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) such as Russia and the US.
The Department of Labor and Employment has also been directed to review a potential minimum wage increase while the Department of Trade and Industry was asked to monitor and apprehend unscrupulous traders taking advantage of the situation, according to Roque.
“Alam namin humirap ang buhay, alam natin na ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng krudo sa pandaigdigang merkado kaya nga patuloy tayo sa mga hakbang na humahanap ng alternatibong mga supplier [We know life has become difficult. We know the prices of goods have increased due to the high oil prices in the world market so we will continue to take steps, including finding an alternative supplier,” he said.
“Ang projection naman dahil ang mga bansang Russia ay hindi member ng OPEC at nag-increase sila ng production, may posibilidad na bumaba ang presyo [The project is because Russia, who is not a member of OPEC, has increased production, there is a possibility the prices will decrease],” he added.
For now, Roque said the government’s “priority” is to try to import cheaper oil products, especially diesel, from Russia.
He noted that the United States has also raised oil production with China as its biggest importer. He said If China can import oil from the US, the Philippines would also review the possibility of tapping the same fuel source.
At present, the country sources its fuel from OPEC member countries.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap na habang tumataas ang presyo ng krudo eh wala tayong hakbang na ginagawa [It is unacceptable that while the prices are increase, we are not doing anything],” he said.
“Ang assurance lang po ni Presidente: hindi po tayo nakaupo lamang, tinitingnan po natin lahat ng options at kung pupuwedeng makahanap ng paraan, eh hahanapin po natin iyan [The President’s assurance is we will not just sit down. We are looking at all options and if we can find a way, we will look for that],” he added.
Oil prices have surged significantly in recent weeks amid the rising prices in the world market. Recently, Russia and Saudi Arabia have reportedly agreed to boost oil supply amid growing concerns the price rally hit its highest since late 2014 at $80.50 a barrel this month.