Why is there no outrage over how the gas firms are overcharging us?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-10-28

Don’t just take it from your Chair Wrecker. But you may want to read what this friend of mine, an American CEO working here, told me. In effect, he said that we are being screwed by the gas companies with the consent of the government and the utter lack of reaction from the Opposition.

He wrote: “I wonder why everyone here is so interested in the US election and yet no one seems to care that we are paying the same amount for gasoline per liter that we were paying when oil cost 60% more per barrel? Seems to me there should be an outcry (outrage?) ongoing.

Where are all those grandstanding politicians who always “champion” a cause of the people? For that matter (sad to say) where are all the reporters? No one seems to be saying much of anything about this mess. The cost of gas per gallon in the United States has dropped from $5 to $2.50 a gallon and yet we have only been given a few centavos reduction.

I thought we had laws here against cartels? Seems they all meet and set the price though. If this government “really” wanted to do something, they need to step in and change or amend their deregulation. Or call it what it really is.

We have a saying and I think it applies here: “We are getting “fu___d” without the benefit of intercourse!” 

I remember that when the oil price was no longer rising, the oil companies said they had to raise the gas price as it was due to the price per barrel “6 months” ago! According to them they bid on the oil that much in advance, so we have to live with prices that are not current.

I can buy that. But if that is true, then why did the price of gas increase here “immediately” when the price per barrel went up? And why isn’t it going down? 

And why isn’t anyone talking about it?
Just venting bud. Am enjoying your articles and e-mails.

Keep the faith.” (End of letter)
My American friend is right. The reduction of the gas price we are now paying is not proportionate to the US reduction.

It cannot be because the US has its own oil supply. US oil will be sold to the US at the same price of the world market.

Thus, if the US gas price can drop from a high of US$5 to US$2.50 a gallon (a 50% price drop) because of the new price for oil, then the Philippine gas price should proportionately drop also.

We used to pay a P52 per liter for unleaded gas when gas prices here were at an all-time high last August. Following the US drop of gas prices, we should now be paying around P26 per liter for unleaded gas. Granting certain inefficiencies and what not, maybe we can even justify paying more than the US reduction — something like P30 or P32 per liter.

How come we are paying P48.60 (the price of unleaded gas last week) which is nowhere near the reduction of gas prices in the US? That is a mere 6.5% reduction compared to 50% in the US.

Some very disturbing thoughts will race through your mind if you realize this disparity.

What is the government doing? How can my friend Angie Reyes and his DoE staff not take the gas companies to task for this glaring disparity in US and Philippine reductions of gas prices? Angie can’t simply dismiss this as part and parcel of deregulation. This is simply DoE impotence to uphold the best interests of Filipino gas consumers.

How come the Opposition has not taken the cudgels for the Filipino gas consumers? This issue affects everybody, not just direct gas consumers, because high gas prices raise the prices of many other basic commodities (like food) that utilize transport.

Where are all those civil society groups that never miss any opportunity to raise their voices and grab publicity over some of the most inane and inconsequential issues? Here is what appears to be a large scale robbery being done on all Filipinos, something that affects Filipino households and industries, an atrocity in that it adds to the misery of the poor — and they have neither noted it nor raised a howl.

Thus far, we only hear from the transport groups whose livelihoods are directly affected by high gas prices. This, in a way, reflects what is terribly wrong in our society — we act only when an issue directly affects us. What is most disturbing is that high gas prices directly affect all of us — and yet we do not react!

Are people in government and the Opposition benefiting from the gas companies by looking the other way on this issue? There is a very big spread per liter of gas between what is being charged and what it should now cost. With the millions of liters used daily, you can just imagine how much “incentive” can be spread around for the gas companies to be allowed to overcharge Filipinos!

Big oil is notorious for being one of the biggest contributors to politicians in the US. We should not be surprised if they maintained the practice here where public servants are more inclined to simply serve themselves and are less accountable to the public?

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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