Fuel prices in Zamboanga City remain higher than in other areas of Mindanao

Fuel prices in Zamboanga City as of 12 October 2021. MindaNews photo by FRENCIE CARREON

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 22 October) — Prices of fuel here have remained higher than in other areas of Mindanao even after some Cabinet officials assured Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco that they would attend to the matter.

At least three Cabinet secretaries have responded to Climaco’s request for them to intervene.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi promised his department “will look into it.”

Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista said he will bring the request to the attention of the National Inter-Agency Task Force and other secretaries.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also responded to the mayor’s request.

Climaco cited that gasoline prices in Zamboanga City currently range from P61 to P67 per liter.

“We currently have the highest surge [of COVID-19 and sadly highest gas price. We need your SOS to lower it to help our people,” her message said.

Delivery services and local public transport operators said they could not increase the cost of fare on their own, as it needs the approval of the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board.

“This has become an emotional subject for everyone in the city, but the increase in fuel prices also means higher cost of capital for us,” said gasoline station proprietor Oliver Ong.

He emphasized that gas station owners are not at liberty to set oil prices.

“Singapore is the regional powerhouse of fuel refinery,” he said.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has been using for years Mean of Platts Singapore (MOPS) as benchmark in the pricing of local fuel products.

MOPS, being the daily average of all transactions involving diesel and gasoline, is being monitorted by gas station owners and managers for fuel prices. It is summed up by Standard and Poor’s Platts, a Singapore-based market wire service.

The DOE website posts weekly comparative fuel pump prices, which showed that in Zamboanga City, average price on October 19-23 was P65.31 for RON 91 and P57.52 for diesel across companies.

For the same period, RON 91 price was P60.64 and diesel price was P52.90 in Pagadian City. In Zamboanga del Norte and Dipolog City the prices of the respective products were P56.95 and P51.95; in Cagayan de Oro City, P60.93 and P52.16; in Davao City, P59.79 and P59.17; and in  General Santos City, P60.58 and P51.65.

Pedro Rufo Soliven, Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc. president, expressed hopes that the matter would be addressed and resolved soon.

He said businessmen have been holding meetings on the issue for months now, and all have asked the national government to intervene.

He said the Philippine Competition Commission had responded in September but that no solution is in sight yet.

In two different fuel pump stations, gas boys admitted the increase by one to two pesos weekly has become part of “the new normal.” (Frencie Carreon/MindaNews)