Bautista says Petron buy back will help temper fuel price hikes

Senatorial candidate and former Quezon City mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista on Wednesday backed calls proposing that the national government buy back Petron Corporation to help temper fuel price increases in the country.

Bautista said he supports the plan to buy back Petron, which was once owned by the state, as it would help foster competition among major oil players.

“The ...information that I gathered is that the national government, DOE (Department of Energy), wants Petron back,” said Bautista who is running for senator in the upcoming May 2022 elections.

“I’m also for it because that’s the way to compete with private firms like Shell and others,” said Bautista, who as mayor supported subsidies for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers when oil prices increase beyond their means.

“It will be very competitive and that’s good I think,” he said.

Bautista, who is running for senator under UniTeam Alliance of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and vice presidential aspirant Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, said the government can mitigate runaway prices of petroleum products in the country especially if fuel prices reach P80 to P85 per liter.

“We can lower that to P70 per liter. Like today, when it’s P70 per litter, that mechanism should be triggered already,” Bautista said. “It’s like our price control system,” he pointed out.

Bautista noted that the Oil Deregulation Act has removed the Oil Price Stabilization Fund (OPSF), a form of subsidy which started during the Marcos administration and continued until the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino.

Congress, however, enacted a law to stop the bleeding of funds for the OPSF and let market forces dictate fuel prices.

However, after COVID-19 restrictions were eased worldwide and demand for petroleum products picked up anew and the country again saw a series of oil price increases, making it more difficult for Philippine public transport drivers and operators to regain their income levels prior to the pandemic.