The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) are in talks about the possible implementation of a gasoline discount mechanism in the fisheries sector, one of the most hit farm sub-sectors by the incessant rise in gasoline prices.
In a briefing Monday, Oct. 25, DA Undersecretary for Agri-Industrialization and Fisheries Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero said the government is now in an advanced stage of discussion when it comes to the plan of giving fishermen fuel discounts.
However, this will only be implemented among 30,000 municipal fisherfolks and 138 commercial fishing vessel operators based within the West Philippine Sea (WPS), she said.
“We know that the rising cost of fuel is really hard on the fishermen,” Caballero said. “We are in talks with the DOE so that we can implement a gasoline discount mechanism for them. The priority would be the 30,000 municipal fisherfolk in the WPS”.
Over the last nine weeks, prices of gas, diesel, and kerosene have already increased by P8.35 per liter (/liter), P9.10/liter, and P8.60/liter, respectively. Fuel accounts for 60 percent of a fisherman’s production cost.
When asked how much the rising fuel cost over the last few weeks has so far affected the lives of fishermen, DA Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and Research Fermin Adriano said he has no idea and will request the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to come up with an analysis on this.
Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) estimates that the average income of a small fisherfolk already dramatically dropped to P120 per fishing trip from P300 prior to the series of oil price hikes.
The fishers’ group said that prices of gasoline and diesel have accumulatively increased by P19.70/liter and P18/liter, respectively, since the start of the year.
Consequently, PAMALAKAYA reported that the cost of production for small fisherfolk have also swelled to P180 per fishing operation, or a total of P720 additional fuel cost for a week of four fishing trips.
“The fishers are groaning in pain from their loss of income from high production expenses per fishing operation,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson, said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA then slammed the Duterte administration for failing to compel the oil firms to bring down the fuel prices amid the calls of the public to impose a price control on petroleum products.
Meanwhile, Caballero said there is still no definite date as to when the fuel discounts will be distributed and how much discount will be given to fishermen, but the DA and DOE is already at the “third round” of their discussions regarding the matter.
She also said that fuel companies like Shell, Caltex, Petron, and Phoenix are amenable to giving the discounts.