By Zaldy C. Comanda
Baguio City — City government officials and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oil Industry Management agreed the other day to jointly get to the bottom of the problem of the big disparity in the prices of fuel in the city vis-à-vis the lowlands.
Local fuel retailers denied having a hand in the price discrepancies and rejected speculations that they have engaged in price manipulation and profiteering.
The cost gaps in the oil prices are about P10 in gasoline and P8 in diesel based on comparative prices in this city and in La Union province.
In a dialogue called by the DOE, operators of Caltex, Petron and Shell retail stations said their charges were based on the suggested retail prices dictated by their mother companies and that they do not have knowledge on the level of the “industry take” or the mark-up they were supposed to be imposing on their products.
Last Wednesday, DOE Oil Industry Management Director Rino Abad cited records that industry take figures in the city in the last two-and-a-half years were much higher than those in La Union and even Metro Manila, which he said is “abnormal and astonishing.”
Baguio’s industry take figures were P2.75 for gas and P1.55 for diesel whereas in La Union it was only 96 centavos and 45 centavos, respectively; and in Manila even decreased by 38 centavos for gas and 45 centavos in diesel.
He stressed that the P2.75 mark-up in gas was even higher by 10 centavos than the excise tax imposed.