The Bohol Provincial Board (PB) has appealed to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into the reported expensive fuel in Tagbilaran City amid accusations that the prices have been unreasonably jacked up by a cartel of businessmen.
The PB during its regular session on Tuesday passed a resolution sponsored by Board Member Restituto Auxtero asking the DOE-DOJ task force to intervene in the probe on fuel prices in the city which are said to be more expensive than those in neighboring municipalities and cities such as Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.
Auxtero said that diesel prices in the city are higher by “P5 to P6” while gasoline prices are more expensive by “P7 to P8.”
Meanwhile, Vice Governor Rene Relampagos who presided over the session expressed support for Auxtero’s appeal.
Relampagos said that the request for the DOE-DOJ task force’s intervention is deemed “urgent.”
In the resolution, Auextero cited Republic Act (RA) 8479, or the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998, which stipulates that the DOE and DOJ are mandated to look into reports of unreasonable increase in fuel prices.
“The DOE-DOJ Task Force must subsequently determine within 30 days the merits of the report and initiate the necessary actions warranted under the circumstances,” Auxtero said.
Auextero said that RA 8479 also ensures fair competition and prohibition of cartelization “which partly means any agreement or concerted action by fuel dealers to fix prices in restraint of free competition.”
“Most Boholanos suspect that there is really a lurking price cartel that dictates fuel pricing levels and profit margins in restraint of free competition in the province of Bohol, most especially in Tagbilaran City, in sheer and brazen violation of the provisions of RA 8479,” he added.
Earlier this, the Tagbilaran City Council conducted an inquiry on the reported exorbitant fuel prices and invited local distributors of petroleum products to explain the cause.
The local dealers said that the prices are controlled by their parent oil firms which sell their fuel at high prices leaving them with a profit margin of P1 to P3 per liter.
The city lawmakers and Vice Mayor Toto Veloso however said that they were unsatisfied with the dealers’ explanations and were set to invite more resource persons to determine the veracity of their claims. (RT)