BAGUIO CITY (Nov. 21) — Public utility vehicle operators and drivers are facing a bleak Christmas with the latest oil price increase, said a transport group as it aired its sentiments against the government policy of deregulating oil.
Carlito Wayas of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) Metro Baguio said the price of diesel fuel has risen to P38.50 per liter with last week’s P0.50 per liter rise.
Wayas said an ordinary jeepney driver in the city would bring home only about P80 after all related expenses have been deducted from his daily earning of about P1,500. According to Piston, an ordinary driver spends around P770 on fuel; P500 to the jeepney owner; P150 food on the road; aside from penalties and fines for occasional traffic violation. If he does not get apprehended, he gets roughly P80 per day for his family, according to Wayas.
“From January to November 15, the price of diesel fuel increased 14 times or a total increase of P7 per liter,” Wayas said. Add to this the price of cooking gas which is now P650 in community convenience stores in the city, the driver’s family hardly cope with the very little income drivers bring home.
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene increased by about 13 times since January, while the price of gasoline, 16 times. LPG increased by more than P1 per kilogram last week.
“Talagang wala nang Pasko at masaganang Bagong Taon kapag ganito ang kita,” (There will be no Christmas and a prosperous New Year, if we earn this much) Wayas told Nordis. The militant transport group leader urged the government to seriously consider repealing the Oil Deregulation Law, which, he said is the main culprit in the fuel increases.
The price of unleaded gasoline based on the Mean of Platts Singapore (MOPS) benchmark for refined petroleum products climbed to an average of $99.23 a barrel earlier this month from the October average of $88.71 a barrel. MOPS-based diesel likewise soared to an average of $109.01 a barrel in the Nov. 1-9 period from an average of $95.47 a barrel in October.
From January prices gasoline has increased by P9 a liter and kerosene by P7 a liter. Diesel prices increased by P7 a liter, according to Piston.
The international contract price of LPG also hit an all-time high of $747.50 per metric ton (MT) this month from $657.50-per-MT in October.
Fare hike, just an economic relief
Wayas underscored the need to increase fare rates, saying drivers do not like to raise fares because they are also consumers and their respective families are among the commuting public.
“Ang pagtaas ng pamasahe sa mga pampasaherong sasakyan ay isang pang-ekonomyang lunas lamang,” (The clamor to increase fares in PUVs is just an economic relief) said Wayas. There are other solutions to the transport crisis and increasing fares is but a little solution to the transport workers’ plight, he said as he iterated the demand to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law.
Wayas said the government could have mitigated the impact on consumers, the increases in the world market with the nationalization of the oil industry. At present, the oil industry is controlled by only a few multinational companies.
Piston is proposing a P1 fare hike for the first four kilometers with P1.50 for succeeding kilometers. Other groups are asking P1.50 and P1.75 increases. For buses, the proposal is P2. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS