After five straight weeks of rollbacks, local pump prices are rising again this week with hefty increases. Based on reports, diesel will go up by ₱6.85 per liter; gasoline by ₱1.20; and kerosene by ₱3.50.
These latest adjustments will bring the total price hikes in the pump price of diesel to ₱35.80 per liter after 23 weeks of price increases and 18 weeks of rollbacks. Gasoline pump price will have a net gain of ₱15.65 a liter (23 weeks of hikes and 16 weeks of rollbacks), while kerosene, ₱26.75 (23 weeks of hikes and 18 weeks of rollbacks).
Oil prices have generally been moving downwards since the year’s second half. Between Jul 5 and the latest adjustments (Oct 10), prices declined in 12 of the 15 weeks. But the rollbacks are not enough to offset the massive price hikes at the start of the year, resulting in net increases.
What’s more, the adjustments are too little compared to what international benchmark prices and foreign exchange say the rollbacks should be (or too high in case of price hikes). For the year, the price adjustments the oil firms implemented up to Oct 4 overcharged consumers by as much as ₱24 per liter. For gasoline, the overprice is around ₱12 per liter.
As usual, speculation in the global market drove the oil price hikes this week, not the actual supply and demand. The Department of Energy (DOE) cited the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) plan to reduce production by two million barrels per day. If it is only a plan, why do oil prices have to go up now?
Overpricing through the weekly price adjustments and speculation – on top of the big transnational oil companies’ monopoly pricing in the global market – oppress the people because of oil deregulation. The lack of policy tools that will curb the abusive pricing of oil firms forces ordinary motorists, public transport drivers, commuters, farmers, fishers, small eateries, and households to pay for excessively priced oil.
Neoliberal policies like the Oil Deregulation Law only line the oil companies and corrupt bureaucrats’ (through the petroleum taxes they collect) pockets at our expense. This oppression must stop. ###