By Myrna Velasco
The Department of Energy (DOE) has ordered a price freeze of up to 15 days on key fuel commodities such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene in various cities and provinces that already declared “state of calamity” relative to the surging spread of the novel coronavirus.
The areas already covered by the price freeze order of the DOE as of 2 p.m. on Monday, March 16, had been: Quezon City, Las Pinas, San Juan, Manila, Pasay and Cavite in Luzon; Cebu City and Negros Oriental in Visayas; and Iligan City in Mindanao.
“During the price freeze, rollback of prices will be implemented; while price increases are strictly prohibited within the 15-day period,” the DOE has decreed.
For some of the cities, state of calamity has been declared as early as March 13; even prior to the declaration of “community quarantine” or generally referred to as “lockdown” in Metro Manila.
As of this writing, the other oil companies in the country had also announced their price rollbacks – to the tune of P4.25 per liter for diesel and gasoline products; and P4.35 per liter for kerosene products.
The industry players that announced their price cuts include Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, Total, Cleanfuel and PTT; while the rest of their competitors are anticipated to follow until Tuesday, March 17.
Despite the very hefty reductions in pump prices this week, it is seen that demand for petroleum products won’t still be boosted – especially in Metro Manila because of the ongoing community quarantine that has been restricting people’s movements, primarily travels.
Similar to the worries of the global oil players, Philippine oil companies are similarly being perturbed at the worsening plunge in prices; which they deem to be coming with extreme pain both on their top and bottom lines.
The oil firms cannot assess yet how the 30-day lockdown in Metro Manila will impact on their sales, but this early, they are already sounding off that demand has been hitting all-time low because of the controlled movement of people and businesses.
There are no clear indications yet also up to when this health crisis will be taking its toll on humanity as well as on the economic well-being of many countries – and up to what extent the Philippines in particular will be hit by it.