Fuel prices accelerated more than expected earlier this month, and all this upheaval is just the beginning for Filipino motorists.
The Department of Energy (DOE) cautioned the public that gas prices could shoot up to P86.72 per liter, with diesel increasing to P81.10 per liter, as global oil prices continue to rise.
In the hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy on Monday, March 14, Energy Undersecretary Gerardo Erguiza Jr. explained how the continued increase is caused by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis: "Pumasok ang problema ng Russia at Ukraine, at ang Russia ay nagsu-supply ng around 5 million barrels a day [globally]. At ang 58% nito ay sinu-supply sa European Union at ang 31% nito ay sinu-supply sa China."
Apart from China, Erguiza noted that South Korea and Japan likewise receive gas supply from Russia. "Wala tayong problema directly sa Russia," he continued. "Pero eventually, ang disruption [m]anggagaling sa China, from South Korea, Japan."
DOE said it has been using the Dubai crude price at $80 as the benchmark during crisis and, to date, the price has increased to up to $120.34 per barrel. If the surge in global prices continues, Dubai crude oil could hit $140 per barrel and consequently hike up the price of gasoline to P86.72 per liter, diesel to P81,10, and kerosene to P80.50 in the Philippines.
Pantawid Pasada program
To mitigate the cost of the massive price hike for consumers, the DOE has mapped out solutions that include discounts from petrol companies.
"Sa DOE, we tried to talk to various oil companies and we were able to get discounts. The Secretary has been meeting them from time to time among others," Erguiza said. "Itong issue ng discount ay nagbigay naman ng oil companies."
In addition, the agency and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) proposed to increase the budget of their Pantawid Pasada program from P2.5 billion to P5 billion for the year.
Under the Pantawid Pasada program, public transport operators are issued a fuel subsidy card, which they can use to avail fuel in participating petroleum retail outlets or stations.
"Last Friday, we already received the P2.5 billion budget from the Department of Budget and Management, and we expect to implement or download the P6,500 subsidies to 177,000 public transport operators. Within this week, the buses and jeepneys 'yung target because we already have the existing mechanism," said DOTr Staff Joemier Pontawe during the hearing.
"Then this week and next week, the other modes of transportation that are covered by these provisions will be receiving their subsidies," he added.
DOTr is currently coordinating with the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Trade and Industry to include tricycle drivers and delivery riders in the program.