Is oil overpriced? Public must know -- solons

HOUSE Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares on Sunday demanded that oil companies withdraw their opposition to the Bayan Muna’s request for the unbundling of their prices so that the public will know if they are overpricing.

Zarate and Colmenares also urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to make public the unbundled price of each liter of fuel.

“The 7th big time oil price hike again brings to the fore the issue of overpricing by oil companies. This also shows the need to unbundle or detail their price of fuel per liter. Noong isang taon sabi ng DOE kulang ang roll back ng oil companies ng 16 centavos per liter ng diesel at 24 centavos per liter ng gasoline. Bilyong piso rin ang bawat isang sentimo na labis na singil sa ating mga consumer,” said Colmenares.

“’Pag oil price increase ang taas ng dagdag nila, pero pag rollback naman mababa masyado. We demand that oil companies withdraw their opposition to the DOE draft circular and the Bayan Muna demand for the unbundling of their prices so that the public will know if they are overpricing. Except for the international price of oil, nobody knows the actual expenses of oil companies in selling fuel such as refining cost, storage, transportation, salaries and advertising cost. The oil companies must inform DOE and the public of this actual cost, so that we will know if they are overpricing or not,” said Colmenares.

“DOE has the power to demand these reports from oil companies. Under Section 15 (a) of RA 8479 grants DOE the has the power to (a) To gather and compile appropriate information concerning, and to investigate from time to time the organization, business, conduct, practices, and management of any person or entity in the oil industry.” DOE should impose penalties against oil companies who will not submit their unbundled prices and institute criminal proceedings against them under Section 12 of the oil deregulation law. If the DOE will not take action we will file a complaint against these oil companies under RA 8479 which allows the public to file complaints for overpricing," added the Bayan Muna chairman.

On the other hand, Zarate called on Malacañang to use its power under the Bayanihan Act on the issue of overpricing and unbundle oil prices.

“For more than 20 years after the oil deregulation law, the government does not know the actual cost of fuel and is therefore not capable of determining predatory pricing or overpricing. This is the tragic folly of deregulation. For 20 years the consumers could have overpaid billions of pesos in overpriced fuel. Worse, these also led to price increases of other products using fuel. Its about time we put an end to this,” said Zarate, a Davao-based lawmaker.

“There is nothing confidential about the actual cost of producing oil. We have to put a stop to this abuse of oil companies that have made life more difficult for the poor who have to pay more for fuel, for transport fare, and for LPG just because there is no transparency in the oil industry," added the progressive solon.

Bayan Muna has been demanding the unbundling of oil pricing data from oil companies in numerous hearings in Congress since 2017 to see if there is overcharging or predatory pricing.

"We are also calling on the House leadership to immediately set a hearing for House Resolution No. 9 to investigate oil pricing schemes of oil companies," Zarate ended.