An unwelcome side effect of cheap fuel prices

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

There is turmoil in the Middle East; however something is happening in the oil Industry where the Brent Crude index fell below US$27 per barrel. Usually when there is trouble in the Middle East, it spikes up the world prices of crude. But something is a-brewing. As what used to be the norm is no longer happening and we’re getting cheap oil products!

Usually, whenever the prices of gasoline go down, we have to wrangle, cajole, demand, or coerce the people in the transportation industry to reduce the fares, and this would have a domino effect, which would ultimately be a boon to consumers. Well it was the first time for the transportation groups to call for a 50-centavo reduction in the minimum fare for the jeepney, which in Metro Manila is pegged at P7.50. We should welcome this development that at least we shall be seeing a reduction in fares as initiated by the transport groups themselves.

But I understand that the taxi operators’ group has refused to follow the lead of the members of the transport groups. Well, it’s up to the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board to look into this and come up with how much reduction in taxi fares is in order. If you ask me, all sectors in the transportation industry should be encouraged to reduce their fares, from bus companies to shipping and yes, including the airlines. The moment they all do this in unison, I dare say that it would spur an economic development unseen in this country.

I have gone fishing in places like Carlos P. Garcia Island off Ubay in Bohol and the fisher folk there always tells me that the prices of their daily catch largely depends upon the prices of gasoline. Hence, if gasoline prices are down, we should call upon the Department of Trade & Industry to monitor prices of basic goods in the markets and see if there is a corresponding reduction in the prices of basic commodities.

While the rest of the world enjoys this oil slump, there could be an unwelcome side effect of this which could affect our Overseas Filipino Workers many of whom are working in the Middle East where quite possibly their host countries could go into a recession which could result in cutbacks of programs where Filipinos are getting hired.

While it has not yet happened, the Philippine government especially the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration should map out strategies on how to handle this situation when it hits them. First to find ways to bring home the OFWs and second and perhaps the most important, to come up with plans to make entrepreneurs out of these overseas workers.

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I got into a discussion yesterday with close friends (whose names I will not mention) about the ugly incident that marred the Sinulog parade where rowdy behavior and binge drinking became the order of the day. In fairness to the Sinulog Foundation, Inc., it refused to issue permits for parties alongside the main Sinulog parade route. But somehow, some people who are just well connected with our political leaders got those permits anyway and then all hell broke loose! So who should we blame?

It is very easy for us to sweep away what happened in the last Sinulog Grand Parade and try to solve this problem in next year’s Sinulog. But as I have already said, it is high time to call for a summit on the Sinulog so we could brain storm this together and come up with ideas in order to make the Sinulog more pleasant and meaningful and unforgettable rather than what happened where there is a large concentration of people and you can no longer pass a particular street because of the huge crowd.

Yes there is also a crowd control issue and we have to do something about the selling of beer and hard liquor in next year’s Sinulog. I could see that Johnnie Walker was a major sponsor of this, perhaps the Sinulog Foundation should no longer accept beer and hard drinks companies as sponsors. Yes, the Sinulog Foundation has to bite the bullet and politely refuse these sponsors who put floats or banners and sell their liquor. I call this crass commercialism of the Sinulog and it has to stop!

As for the crowd control, the only place I know that has huge crowds and handles them very well is St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. When we covered the canonization of San Pedro Calungsod, the press was placed on top of the colonnade surrounding St. Peter’s Square and I could see that the Vatican put up squares for people to be placed and counted. When it is full, no one is allowed to enter anymore. I’m not saying that this will work here, but it is something to start talking about. Of course we need at least two thousand soldiers to man the streets if we want to control the crowd, otherwise the success of the Sinulog might just be its folly!

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For email responses to this article, write to [email protected] or [email protected]. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.















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