Go calls for fuel subsidy amid rising oil prices

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Bong Go appealed yesterday to concerned government agencies to immediately study the feasibility of providing subsidies, as well as discounts, to certain sectors affected by successive increases in fuel prices.

Go said the fuel price hikes are adding to the burden of Filipinos still reeling from the pandemic.

He urged the Departments of Energy, Agriculture and Transportation to see if it would be possible to extend fuel discounts or subsidies to certain sectors like public transport and food deliveries.

“Giving discounts or subsidies will help lighten the burden caused by the increase in oil prices,” Go said in Filipino.

He said the assistance will not only aid ordinary commuters, but also help control possible increases in the prices of food and other basic commodities that are being transported from producers to markets and consumers.

Concerned agencies should also study possible amendments to the law to allow the temporary suspension in the imposition of fuel excise taxes if oil prices continue to surge in the world market, he said.

“It is the mandate of government to lighten the burden of our countrymen, especially when we are trying to overcome this crisis. Let’s not add to their suffering,” Go said.

He also pressed for the fast-tracking of mass transportation projects, such as railways to make travel easier and faster for Filipinos.

Meanwhile, fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) has reiterated its call to the government to control the prices of petroleum products, lamenting that fishers are now losing P180 in income per fishing trip due to the series of oil price hikes allegedly driven by oil cartels.

“Duterte’s puppetry to multinational oil cartels emboldens the latter to amass super-profit out of the working public through predatory pricing of fuel products and other forms of corporate abuses,” Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

“We are one with the many sectors in calling for immediate price control of petroleum products and safeguard the public interest from these profiteering oil companies,” he added.

Hicap noted that the prices of gasoline and diesel have cumulatively increased by P19.70 per liter and P18 per liter, respectively, since the start of the year.

He said this resulted in the increased cost of production and, consequently, a dramatic drop in the average income of small fishers who regularly consume diesel.

Hicap said the cost of production for small fisherfolk has swelled to P180 per fishing operation, or a total of P720 additional fuel cost for a week of four fishing trips.

Hicap said that from an average income of P300 per fishing trip prior to the series of oil price hikes, a fisherman is now earning just P120 per trip.

The Pamalakaya said the “unbridled fuel price increase has pushed the fishers to downsize their fishing operations because they can’t afford the additional fuel cost.”

“The fishers are groaning in pain from their loss of income from high production expenses per fishing operation,” Hicap said.

Aside from calling for the imposition of a price control mechanism on petroleum products, the Pamalakaya is also urging Congress to pass the Petron Re-Nationalization Act and the Downstream Oil Industry Regulation Act. Both proposed bills were filed by the Makabayan bloc in Congress, seeking to reverse the deregulation of the oil industry. – Elizabeth Marcelo

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