PHILIPPINES: Public utility bus and jeepney groups yesterday warned of another transport holiday within the month that could paralyze millions of commuters nationwide if oil companies would not increase their subsidy on fuel prices.
The subsidy they want is in a form of discounts. Although oil companies have been imposing a price discounts for them, the groups noted that "the limited coverage is not enough."
"We want it to be on all their retailers instead of just selected stations," the groups noted.
The groups threatening of transport holiday are the Philippine Confederation of Drivers Association-Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators (PCDA-ACTO), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, Integrated Metro Bus Operators Association (IMBOA), Northeast Metro Bus Operators Association, Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association, and Makati Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association.
"We estimate that 95% of the total commuters in the country will be affected of the transport strike because we are including bus operators. But that (strike) would be our last resort if the oil companies would not subsidize the bulk of the increases they implement," PCDA-ACTO national president and chairman Efren A. de Luna said.
In a meeting hosted by Consumer Oil Price Watch Chairman Raul T. Concepcion in his office, the groups drafted a position paper stating the need to subsidize fuel cost increases "because they can no longer bare the current transport fares."
Oil companies implemented a 50-centavo-per-liter increase in prices of fuel products over the weekend. This prompted the groups to gather and consolidate their concerns.
Mr. de Luna said of the 50 centavos per liter increase, oil companies should shoulder at least 40 centavos so as not to hurt the transport business as fuel cost comprises more than half of their total operating cost.
The transport groups also want to revisit the oil deregulation law, which they blamed for the "unjust" increases in fuel prices.
"The petition is not really to control the oil industry but to have a hybrid regulation (of the industry)," IMBOA president Claire de la Fuente said, noting that the hybrid regulation would compose of regulation partly from the government and partly from the consumer groups.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last week said the issue on regulating the oil industry was up to the Congress. Mrs. Arroyo made the statement after groups asked her opinion on soaring oil prices.
In the meeting, Mr. Concepcion also urged the benchmarking in computing price increases. He said based on his computations, refiners should impose a lower price increase compared to non-refiners.
"The two oil players import 70% crude while 30% finished products. This means that they should not solely base their prices on Dubai. In my computation, when refiners implement a gasoline price hike, it should be 43% lower compared to new players hike. While for diesel, it should be lower by 42%," Mr. Concepcion noted.
Oil refiners use the price of Dubai partly for pricing local fuel while finished products importers or the new players use the Mean of Platts Singapore as benchmark.