House panel moves to address effects of oil price hikes to public transport sector

Published October 13, 2021, 7:48 PM

by Manila Bulletin

The House of Representatives Committee on Transportation, under its chairman Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, has called for an executive meeting to discuss the soaring oil prices in the country on Wednesday, October 13.

This came about after the Lower House committee heard the side of concerned transport groups who are not only suffering from the rising petroleum prices but also the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic during its transportation hearing.

Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) president Mody Floranda, who was one of the resource speakers during the House briefing, decried the government’s inability to control the increase of oil prices which he said are being dictated by big oil companies like Shell and Caltex.

“Kailangan na po nating pag-aralan at rebisahin ang oil deregulation law. Nakatulong nga ba ito sa mga mamamayan at sa mga tsuper at operator o lalo lamang itong nagpalugmok sa kabuhayan ng mga driver at operator (We need to study and revise the oil deregulation law. Did it help the people, the drivers and operators or did it add to their helplessness?)” said Floranda, who also cited the lack of a public hearing on the increasing oil products, the need to remove the excise tax and revision of the EVAT.

DOE Oil Industry Management Bureau director Rino Abad, for this part, confirmed the increase of oil pump prices of gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). He noted that there has been an increase of P17.85 per liter for gasoline, P16.50 for diesel, P14.19 for kerosene and P20.24 for LPG this year. DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor acknowledged that the increase of fuel prices has placed drivers and operators in a very difficult situation. He added that the DOTr is also coordinating with the DOE and LTFRB to provide remedies to the transport sector problem.

LTFRB executive director Joel Bolano presented a summary of the current fare rates for public utility vehicles (PUVs) aside from discussing the government interventions for the benefit of drivers and operators like the Pantawid Pasada Program (PPP), social amelioration program and direct cash subsidy.

He said that the LTFRB and DOTr are currently coordinating with the DOE for a possible Phase 2 of the fuel and cash subsidy for PUV operators. Bolano added that the LTFRB will submit a proposal to the DOE which will include the estimated amount and the number of beneficiaries based on the last implementation of the PPP.

LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III, on the other hand, discussed the transport department’s service contracting program for drivers and operators. Delgra said that the LTFRB will appeal for the continued funding under the service contracting program which he said is an equalizer to both the transport sector and the commuting public.

ACT Teachers Partylist France Castro, on her manifestation, asked the DOE whether they had made studies on the stocks of oil companies and fuel products increases.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, for his part, expounded on the drastic increases in gasoline prices and other petroleum products, the role of oil companies in regulating prices, and the need to review the oil deregulation law. (Melvin Sarangay)