By JONAS ALPASAN
MANILA – Farmers and fisherfolk are among those badly hit as oil prices continue to increase.
“Every oil price increase is an added burden to consumers, workers, farmers, and the poor. These price hikes have resulted in increased cost of production and lower income for farmers, fisherfolk, and transportation workers who have nothing to bring home to their families now,” said Rafael Mariano, chairperson of Anakpawis Partylist.
Government data said that the total net increase is at P7.95 per liter for gasoline, P10.20 per liter for diesel and P9.10 per liter for kerosene.
While the Philippine government said that it will provide fuel subsidies for affected transport sector, fisherfolk and farmers, Mariano stressed the need to suspend excise taxes on oil products which, he said, can immediately “slash oil prices and give economic relief to consumers.”
Apart from suspending the excise tax, there are also calls for the government to revisit the law that deregulated the oil industry.
“The government must have a strong political will to address the nonstop oil price hikes burdening Filipinos,” Mariano, former agrarian reform secretary, said.
Lower catch for fisherfolk
In a statement, fisherfolk group Pamalakaya said that they expect a significant decrease in fisheries output for the first quarter of the year due to the oil price hikes.
Ronnel Arambulo, spokesperson of Pamalakaya, said that fuel cost covers almost 80 percent of production expenses.
In a study conducted by Pamalakaya, fisherfolk in Zambales need to spend P8,960 ($173) for their monthly fuel expenses, given that the fuel cost is currently P56 ($1.09) per liter. This is $34 higher as the fuel cost used to be P45 ($0.87) per liter.
Meanwhile, both Anakpawis and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas warned companies not to take advantage of the situation between Russia and Ukraine “to jack up prices of food and other commodities.”
While there are noodle companies that have announced that their prices may increase, the farmers groups said that the US, not Russia, remains to be the leading source of wheat for the country.
Ayuda, production subsidies
Mariano also repeated earlier calls for the government to provide financial assistance around $193 and production subsidies around $290 to farmers and fisherfolk. He said that the looming global food inflation could lead to price increases in meat, dairy, cereals, vegetable oils and sugar.