Pump prices may hit the Php100 per liter mark should conflict overseas continue, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).
“So, pag tumataas pa nang tumaas ito, eh talagang papalo tayo doon,” Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi said in a media briefing on Tuesday, referring to the price of Dubai Crude, which the DOE said has already reached the $125 per barrel mark.
Among the factors affecting global oil prices include the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and growing oil demand, among others.
“Depending on how high it will hit in the market, which we are all hoping and praying na hindi mangyari,” Cusi added.
For the tenth straight week, local oil prices have jumped on Tuesday by as much as Php3.80/liter for gasoline, Php5.85/liter for diesel, and Php4.10/liter for kerosene.
The worst, however, may not be over yet.
House ways and means committee chairman and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said in a CNN Philippines report that pump prices may increase by as much as Php11.10/liter this coming Tuesday.
When asked if it’s high time to declare a “State of Economic Emergency”, Cusi said that “it’s not necessary at this time.” However, Malacanang is studying a proposal asking Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to declare such status, according to presidential spokesman Sec. Martin Andanar.
But should the government not declare a state of economic emergency, Salceda – an economist – said that Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act can be modified so that the declaration of a state of calamity could include prolonged oil price hikes.
Salceda said that the law’s enabling mechanism can be amended to “qualify unmitigated oil price increase as a ‘disruption of lifelines’ along with food supply, electricity, potable water systems, and transportation systems.”
With the amendment, local government units can use disaster risk reduction funds to generate relief and recovery programs and impose price controls. To help cushion the impact of soaring oil prices, the DOE said that the budget for the Pantawid Pasada program has been doubled to Php 5 billion. The first tranche will be released this March.