By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Leaders of Bayan Muna Partylist and Kilusang Mayo Uno questioned today the big time price hike of oil products implemented in the Philippines when world oil prices have been falling since last year, and price rollbacks have not yet adequately reflected that.
In separate statements, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and KMU chairman Elmer “Bong” Labog shared international oil price data that show local oil prices should have been going down rather than up. News reports say that US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery fell 68 cents to $52.18, while Brent crude for March eased 80 cents to $57.54 in morning trade. Even better for local consumers, Colmenares said oil companies operating here have a buffer stock they purchased when oil price was lower.
Oil prices are also predicted not to rise much in the next five years, based on analysts of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said industry sources estimate that the oil price rollback should have been P1 to P2. According to KMU, the “oil cartel” operating in the Philippines has not yet rolled back oil prices to fully reflect the 60 percent drop in global oil prices since June last year. The labor group condemned the Aquino government for having maintained the Oil Deregulation Law, which they say give license to the oil cartel to continue with their overpricing scheme, and the 12 percent Value Added Tax on oil, which they said adds even more burden to consumers.