VP aspirants pitch price controls, excise tax suspension as pump prices rise

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
vice presidential debate CNN Philippines
Seven vice-presidential candidates participate at the first Commission on Elections-backed debate on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022 at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines and aired on CNN Philippines.
The Varsitarian / Marvin John F. Uy

MANILA, Philippines — Vice-presidential bet Rizalito David on Saturday called for the suspension of the collection of fuel excise taxes, while another bet, former congressman Walden Bello, is pushing for price controls amid rising pump prices driven by global supply disruptions.

Since the start of the year, local oil firms reported that gasoline prices posted a net increase of P8.75 per liter; diesel rose to P10.85 per liter and kerosene went up by P9.55 per liter. 

"I hope [there will be] a special session of Congress which will move to give [President Rodrigo Duterte] the power to suspend the implementation of the excise taxes and probably reduce the value-added tax at the pump," David, who is an economist, said during the CNN Philippines vice-presidential debate on Saturday.

"That would reduce the price by at least P5 to P6 pesos already which is already substantial in helping our drivers recover," he said.

The excise tax on gasoline currently stands at P10 per liter, P6 per liter for diesel, and P5 per liter for kerosene under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

David is the running mate of Jose Montemayor Jr., who is vying for the presidency in this year's elections,  under the Democratic Party of the Philippines (DPP).

He also noted that the country stands to benefit from the reacquisition of Petron, a private oil refining and marketing firm which used to be state-owned and controlled. 

Petron, now under San Miguel Corp., is listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange. 

"If we are the ones running the next administration, we will reacquire Petron so that it can provide the country's fuel requirements and help us refine our own fuel," David said. 

'Repeal oil deregulation'

Former congressman Bello, who is running for vice president, said it is important for the country to implement price controls by repealing the oil deregulation law.

The law, signed in 1998, currently liberalizes the downstream oil industry to "ensure a competitive market" in a bid to encourage more participants. 

"We should not only get Petron back, but we [must] repeal the oil deregulation law so that we have control of the prices," Bello said. Oil prices were deregulated in 1998 while an Oil Price Stabilization Fund meant to keep pump prices under control was abolished in 1996 because it was costing the government too much to maintain.

Bello is the running mate of labor leader Ka Leody de Guzman of Partido Lakas ng Masa.

Meanwhile, Dr. Willie Ong pushed to slash petroleum taxes by 50% in order to help address the constant fuel price hikes. He added that the country should look for sources of oil in the West Philippine Sea, which he said can provide 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion barrels of oil. 

Ong, the running mate of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, pointed out that the country's only indigenous gas field, the Malampaya project, is estimated to be completely depleted by 2027, making it imperative for the Philippines to find other domestic sources of fuel.

The CNN Philippines debate featuring the platforms of the vice presidential bets was held at the University of Santo Tomas. The network will be holding its presidential debate on Sunday.



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