Roque gives gov't tips on how to handle fuel price woes

Following the massive spike in oil prices on Tuesday, March 8, Senate bet Harry Roque listed some short term, medium term, and long term measures that the government can follow to help mitigate the price surge's effects on consumers.

Senate bet Harry Roque (FILE PHOTO)

On March 8, gasoline prices went up P3.60 per liter, diesel P5.85 per liter, and kerosene by P4.10 per liter.

"As a short-term measure, the government should continue subsidizing our farmers and fisherfolks who are highly dependent on petroleum products in the production, supply, and transportation of their goods," Roque said.

The national government has already approved the Department of Agriculture's (DA) P500-million fuel subsidy for farmers and fisherfolks, though some lawmakers have slammed the slow distribution of funds and the "meager" amount.

In terms of medium and long term suggestions, Roque asserted that congress should review the fuel excise tax under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, and Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

Roque said that the House could potentially suspend the excise tax on petroleum products which currently stand at P10 per liter on gasoline, P6 per liter for diesel, and P5 per liter for kerosene.

The House Fuel Crisis Ad Hoc Committee met on Monday, March 7 to discuss the suspension of fuel excise taxation and distribution of fuel subsidies.

"We have to make sure that the P10-billion rice competitive enhancement fund is benefiting our farmers in terms of capital and loans,” he said of the Rice Tariffication Law.

He also put forward the revival of the Oil Price Stabilization Fund (OPSF).

"Congress should look into the possibility of restoring the OPSF that was enacted in 1984. Given the skyrocketing local fuel prices, the government is compelled to provide subsidies to different sectors," Roque explained.

The OPSF was the national government’s budget allocation to keep local pump prices relatively low by absorbing fuel price increases resulting from international price hikes.

Since the start of 2022, the Department of Energy (DOE) has noted that gasoline prices have increased by an accumulated P13.25 per liter; for diesel, P17.50 per liter; and for kerosene, P14.40 per liter.