'Big 3' rolls back oil prices in Baguio City

By Dionisio Dennis, Jr.

June 16, 2018, 7:57 am

BAGUIO CITY -- The so-called "Big 3" oil companies -- Shell, Petron and Caltex -- have cut pump prices of petroleum products in the city by as much as PHP2 to PHP6 per liter for diesel and gasoline, respectively, Congressman Mark Go told media on Friday.

"They lowered the price of diesel by PHP2 and PHP6 for gasoline. Now the disparity is trimmed,” Go said in Filipino, referring to the disparity in the pump prices in Baguio compared to other parts of the country.

He, however, said that he is not yet contented as the disparity remains at PHP5 to PHP6 in the city and Rosario, La Union when it should only be between PHP1 and PHP1.50.

In 2017, Rep. Go filed a bill in Congress seeking for an investigation into the PHP10 to PHP14 disparity in the prices of fuel sold in Baguio compared to Rosario, La Union.

“This has been what we were working on since last year and as part of the effort that we have done, we filed a resolution to investigate this,” he said.

He said that during the week, Mia delos Reyes of Petron called him that they will reduce the price of gasoline by PHP5 and diesel by PHP1.50.

He, however, said that while the disparity had been lowered, “we are not yet satisfied. We want to know how they get their price and what the basis of the rollback is.”

While the battle to lower the prices of fuel sold in Baguio goes on, Go said he also filed a bill in Congress to empower the Department of Energy (DOE) to set the price ceiling of fuel to avoid disparity in the selling prices, not just in Baguio, but the whole country. The proposed bill is now with the Committee on Energy at the Lower House.

Meanwhile, in a consultation meeting on Thursday, owners and retailers of fuel in Baguio city denied allegations of cartelization in oil pricing.

Retailer and franchise holders of the "Big 3" said they are merely following the suggested retail price handed down to them by their mother company.

Elmer Tamondong, Rhea Tabanda, and Christina Suello from Shell, Caltex and Petron said that as local retailers, they cannot dictate prices.

"As a retailer, we don't have the right to change the prices of our products. The decision is from our main office and whatever their decision is, that is what we are following. That is why it is beyond our control," Tamondong said in Filipino.

During the consultation meeting, DOE’s Oil Industry Management Bureau Director Rino Abad talked about the factors affecting oil price. He said that the absence of a nearby oil depot and big industries' heavy fuel consumption are just some of the factors. He also said that the low consumption in the city relative to La Union is another factor.

"Fuel affects everyone, that's why we are here to discuss with you the issues and concerns that affects oil price, especially that there are reports that the fuel price here has some disparities," Abad said.

Aside from the retailers of the big three, a representative of Clean Fuel who also attended the meeting, said they sell at lower prices because they have limited expenses, such as advertisements, which are added to the operational cost.

"We can give our customers as low as we can because we're not like the Big 3 that spend money for advertisement and we do not also pay much in our rentals because some of the lot where our retail gasoline stations are situated are company-owned," the representative said. (PNA)