The Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) of Tagbilaran City will be verifying the claims of local fuel distributors that oil firms, particularly the so-called “Big Three,” are behind the high pump prices in the city.
Tagbilaran Vice Mayor Toto Veloso on Monday said that the SP intends to identify the “base price” of fuel procured by retailers from their sources—Shell, Petron and Caltex—amid claims that the oil firms have set their prices too high for the local distributors.
Retailers in the city who have been beleaguered by public clamor for cheaper fuel defended themselves by noting that they have only set a profit margin of P1 to P3 and that the pump prices are driven up by the original costs of the oil firms’ products.
“Wa man ta kahibaw sa base price sa ilang source except na dagdag sila sa presyo, dunay excise tax, sa mga additives, and then compared to other stations naa silay branded gas, kompleto pud sila og manpower with complete uniform, ninggasto sila, ga add on sila,” Veloso said.
The issue has been referred to the SP’s committee on public utilities and energy.
Veloso said that the SP panel will be inviting representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE), Bureau of Internal Revenue and other agencies as they look further into the cause of high fuel prices in the city.
“Wa man ta kahibaw sa base price sa Bohol, Dumaguete, sa Cebu, kay mo differ man ang presyo. Perhaps ani siguro ta mangutana sa other agencies like the DOE ug uban pa og pilay gipangbayran nila [distributors], perhaps we could really look into og pila g’yud angayan nila na ma presyo based sa base price sa ilang source,” he added.
The vice mayor said that they will also look into allegations that the high prices are caused by a cartel, or a group of businessmen, that manipulates the prices of petroleum products.
Players in the local fuel industry have repeatedly denied the accusation, which has emerged multiple times in the past but has yet to be proven.
The issue on expensive fuel in Tagbilaran surfaced anew after it was pinpointed that prices in the city are higher by P8 to P10 compared to those in neighboring towns such as Dauis and cities such Dumaguete in Negros Island.
One of the province’s pioneering fuel distributors, Leo Lim, had earlier explained that lower prices in some towns in the province are driven by competition among the Big Three in that area.
Lim said that the oil firms sell their products cheaper to retailers in areas such as Ubay where there is tight competition among the fuel brands allowing their gasoline stations to set lower pump prices.
He also claimed that fuel prices in the neighboring province of Cebu are lower because the distributors in the island import their supplies.