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Nation

Oil prices: Frozen in Luzon, hikes in VisMin!

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila -

Last Tuesday, The Philippine STAR headlined the news “Oil prices fall anew in Asia,” which should have been good news for us in Cebu… where we have been still paying an average of P6 more for a liter of fuel since last year, something that was reported in a Cabinet meeting held in Cebu last March. However, when I gassed up my car at Petron in Banilad last Wednesday, I had to shell out P44.20 for a liter of XCS. Since I always keep records, the last time I gassed up was last Oct. 15 and my record shows that I paid only P42.94 for every liter of XCS gasoline a week ago. That’s a price differential of P1.26 for every liter of gasoline.

Now the banner headline of The Philippine STAR last Tuesday was “Palace to oil firms: Comply or face raps: EO 839 freezes pump prices at Oct. 15 levels.” This only proves that the oil companies – or at least Petron – have already violated EO 839 because they have increased their fuel prices by at least P1.26 per liter.

As if to scare oil consumers, the oil companies have warned the government of an oil shortage, while complying with the freeze in oil pump prices in Luzon. This is why I believe that the Big 3 oil companies have increased the oil pump prices in the Visayas and Mindanao, where our oil prices are already very high. It is high time we put a stop to this nonsense and fight the Big 3 oil companies, which do not care if Cebuanos suffer for as long as they get what they want.

If at all, we are comforted by the statement of former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) chairman Ralph Recto who appealed to the Big 3 oil companies not to penalize the Visayas and Mindanao while there is a temporary freeze in oil prices in calamity-hit areas. Recto said, “This variation is unfair to areas which are economically less prosperous than Metro Manila. A Cebuano fisherman has the right to complain if the gas for his banca is more expensive than the gas a Makati resident loads in his SUV. Even before Ondoy and Pepeng struck, fuel prices were already higher in Bacolod, Cebu, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro, etc. So the price freeze in the damaged North can’t be used as a scapegoat to raise the prices in the destitute South. The Visayas and Mindanao are not cost-recovery markets.”

Thanks for the kind words of Ralph Recto. With the political season going full speed ahead, we would like to hear from the presidential contenders on their plans to bring the oil prices in the Visayas and Mindanao to be at par with Manila. No, sir, we do not want to hear a presidentiable say that he or she would look into it. If this presidential contender has the plan and the guts to do something to help alleviate the oil crunch done to us in Cebu and elsewhere in the Visayas and Mindanao, they better be prepared to answer our tough questions on this issue.

* * *

There is no question that the political kettle has already overheated. A lot of his fans in Cebu have been waiting for the announcement coming from that very serious Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero to run for the presidency… a decision that he told his audience during the Press Freedom Week celebration at the Fernan Press Center that he would do so after his 40th birthday. However, instead of making that expected announcement, Sen. Chiz threw a much-unexpected bombshell… that he has quit the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) headed by business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. So now, Chiz has joined the ranks of the party-less… which is not part and parcel of the so-called party-list! 

My take on that announcement, Sen. Escudero did not really bolt the NPC in order to move to another political aggrupation. He is no political butterfly, although the other political parties are more than just willing to take him into their fold. The way he announced it… Chiz was saying that his party “should only be the Philippines” and his party mates “the Filipino people.”

I would like to ask Chiz whether he is saying that political parties have become irrelevant to our political system. This is exactly what we wrote in our column yesterday that we ought to go back to the two-party system so that our political parties would not be ruled by a one-man patron, but by a party committee. So now we wait for the next move of Sen. Escudero.

Meanwhile, Chiz’s former NPC party mate Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro just bagged the endorsement of 738 mayors from the League of Municipalities of the Philippines as their choice as the next President. This is on top of the 49 governors from the League of Governors of the Philippines who already endorsed him. All I can say is, this is a formidable bloc that would be campaigning for his candidacy from the local to the grassroots level.

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For e-mail responses to this article, write to [email protected] or [email protected] Avila’s columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

A CEBUANO

ALL I

CEBU

CHIZ

DEFENSE SECRETARY GIBO TEODORO

FERNAN PRESS CENTER

OIL

POLITICAL

PRICES

RALPH RECTO

VISAYAS AND MINDANAO

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