2022 Philippine Elections

Presidential bets tackle economic impact of Russia-Ukraine crisis in CNN PH debate

Ralf Rivas
Presidential bets tackle economic impact of Russia-Ukraine crisis in CNN PH debate

PROTEST. Transport group PISTON stages a protest against oil price hikes at a gas station in Quezon City on January 25, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Vice President Leni Robredo calls for the suspension of excise taxes on oil, while labor leader Leody de Guzman wants to scrap oil deregulation

MANILA, Philippines – While Ukraine is thousands of kilometers away from the Philippines, the economic impact of Russia’s invasion will be felt by Filipinos.

Global oil prices already jumped over $105 per barrel due to the geopolitical conflict.

With the spike, the Philippines is bracing for a domino effect, spreading through crucial sectors such as energy and transportation, on top of a currency depreciation.

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Here’s how presidential bets intend to address the problem:

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Lacson enumerated the safeguards the Philippines has in case of external economic shocks.

He said there are special provisions in the national budget where aid can be given should Dubai crude oil reach $80 on average for three months.

The government’s economic managers already announced that they are preparing P2.5 billion for fuel vouchers. The Department of Agriculture also has P500 million in its budget that can be used for fuel subsidies.

Vice President Leni Robredo

Robredo also noted the mechanisms and triggers set for fuel subsidies, but pushed for the automatic suspension of excise tax.

“Kailangan mag-automatic suspension ng excise tax. Kasi ‘yung mababawas nito sa presyo ay mga P10 per liter, ‘pag nagkaroon ng automatic suspension,” Robredo said. (There needs to be automatic suspension of excise tax. It would reduce prices by P10 per liter.)

Robredo also said the implementation of value-added tax must be scrutinized to ensure that charges which aren’t supposed to be passed on to consumers won’t be passed on.

“‘Yung systems loss, ‘yung distribution charges, kailangan ma-subsidize ito ng pamahalaan para ‘yung kuwenta natin halos mga P600 ang mababawas sa bawat pamilyang panggastos,” Robredo said. (Systems loss and distribution charges must be subsidized by the government. I estimated that this would reduce a family’s expenses by nearly P600.)

Leody de Guzman

De Guzman echoed what activist groups have been demanding for years: Scrap the oil deregulation law.

“Kung hindi ‘yan mare-regulate at palaging deregulated ay nasa kamay ng mga malalaking korporasyon ng langis na magsamantala at gamitin ‘tong krisis na ito para kumita ng doble sa presyong kanilang dapat kitain,” he said. (If oil won’t be regulated and will be left to the hands of big oil corporations, they will take advantage of this crisis to double their earnings.) – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.