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MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Martin Romualdez warned of “unpalatable” measures against key players in the oil industry should they fail to find solutions to mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices on ordinary Filipinos.
During a closed-door meeting between House leaders and oil executives, Romualdez said Congress is open to suggesting to the President a suspension of excise tax and value-added tax (VAT) on oil, but insisted private companies should make clear what sacrifices it could make as well.
He wanted them to “find ways to cut their profit margins to reduce fuel prices.”
“If you are part of the solution, Congress will be very appreciative and supportive of you. But if you are part of the problem, we might have to undertake measures that would be unpalatable to you,” Romualdez told big oil players, based on a press release from his office.
It remains to be seen what these “unpalatable measures” would be.
“The Speaker is waiting for their answer because we wouldn’t allow that it’s only the government that gives way all the time. Oil companies make a profit as well. Congress knows this, so we’re asking them to help out also,” House Deputy Majority Leader Erwin Tulfo of ACT-CIS, who was present in the meeting, said in a subsequent press conference.
Energy Undersecretary Sharon Garin said a suspension of excise tax on oil would cost the government “P9.8 billion for the rest of the year.”
Earlier on Monday, House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to certify as urgent bills seeking to scrap the excise tax on oil.
She claimed that doing so would slash the price of diesel by as much as P15 per liter.
“Oil taxes must be scrapped at the soonest time to bring urgent relief to Filipinos, and especially as world oil prices are set to further escalate in the coming months,” the opposition lawmaker said.
Other courses of action floated during the meeting include reviewing the oil deregulation law due to the lack of transparency in the pricing scheme of fuel companies.
Present during the meeting were Department of Energy officials as well as representatives from Petron, Shell, Chevron, Flying V, Total, the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association, and the Philippine Institute of Petroleum.
The Philippines is headed for an 11th consecutive week of oil price hike after top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia extended supply cuts.
This brings total increases for diesel to P16.90 per liter, gasoline to P11.60, and kerosene to P15.74 since July.
Earlier this month, the government rolled out its P2.95-billion fuel subsidy program for public utility vehicle operators to cushion the impact of the oil price hikes.