GenSan fishermen appeal for fuel subsidy, urge suspension of petroleum excise tax 

Prices in one of the fuel pump stations in General Santos City on Monday, 06 June 2022. MindaNews photo by Richelyn Gubalani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 06 June) – Marginal and commercial fish producers in this city, dubbed the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” called on the government Monday to provide them with subsidies and suspend the excise tax on fuel amid the soaring prices of petroleum products in the country.

This developed as a big-time price hike on fuel products is set to take effect on Tuesday, June 7, with diesel rising by at least P6.55 per liter and P2.70 for gasoline.

As of Monday, prices of diesel in the city range from P74 to P77 per liter and at least P76 per liter for gasoline.

Ruel Libawan, a member of the Minanga Buayan Fishermen Association, bemoaned the soaring prices of petroleum products in the past several months to their fishing operations.

“Before we went out this morning to fish, we bought P700 worth of gasoline. Sadly, we returned home without any catch. Life is hard for us because of the prohibitive prices of fuel,” he said in the vernacular.

His relative, Guillermo Libawan, said his fuel expense for a fishing expedition doubled from P500 to P1,000.

“Sometimes, we would go home empty-handed. With the high price of gasoline, we’re afraid to go to distant fishing grounds because we might not have enough fuel to go home,” Guillermo said.

“I hope the government will help the small fishermen here,” he added.

Both Ruel and Guillermo chorused they have not heard of any news that the government will grant them subsidies.

Tuna fishing boats docked at the fish port complex in General Santos City. (MindaNews file photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO)

Meanwhile, Dominic Salazar, president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII), appealed to the incoming Marcos administration to suspend the excise and value-added taxes on fuel products to give relief to fish producers.

On Saturday, he said that tuna fishing companies have been recording significant spikes in their operating costs due to the soaring prices of fuel products.

SFFAII has been engaging with the city government and other national government agencies for possible remedies in light of the situation, he said. 

“We might be able to sustain our operations if these taxes are removed,” said Salazar, who is also the president of tuna fishing group South Cotabato Purse-Seiners Association. 

During the 20th National Tuna Congress in 2018, which was hosted by SFFAII, industry players passed a resolution urging the Office of the President, through the Department of Finance, to revisit the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Act or the Train Law and “to totally remove the excise tax on petroleum products that are directly used by the masses, otherwise exempt such products from being imposed with the excise tax, provided the same are used for fishing and fishery activities.”

The current excise tax rates for the major petroleum products are as follows: P10 per liter for gasoline, P6 per liter for diesel, P5 per liter for kerosene, and P3 per liter for LPG, data from the Department of Finance showed. (Richelyn Gubalani / MindaNews)