More fuel price hikes, more grumblings
COSTLY FUEL Gas station attendants say motorists have shifted to using regular unleaded gasoline instead of the more expensive high-octane variant after the latest round of price increases. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE
Esmeraldo Cabrera shook his head in disappointment on Monday when he learned that diesel prices were going up anew by a hefty amount.
Cabrera, 48, who has been driving a jeepney for 18 years, said he used to go home by 7 p.m. “But these days, to make up for the rising prices of everything, I drive until 11 p.m. so I can come up with the P3,000 daily boundary.”
He pleaded with President Rodrigo Duterte to take action.
“We now find it difficult to cope with the rising prices of fuel and basic commodities,” Cabrera said.
On Tuesday, pump prices of fuel rose for the ninth week in a row as global crude prices went up, which could hamper efforts to help consumers cope with surging prices of goods and services.
Starting 6 a.m., oil companies in the country raised prices of diesel by P1.45 a liter and gasoline by P1 a liter.
Retail price of diesel in Metro Manila now ranges from P48.05 to P51.84 a liter, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).
Gas demand down
Gasoline with an octane rating of 95 is now sold at P54.05 to P64.27 a liter. Kerosene now costs P51.17 to P61.30 a liter.
The high fuel prices are dampening demand for gasoline with high-octane rating.
At a gas station on Chino Roces Avenue in Makati City, attendants recalled filling up five cars a day with V-Power, the most expensive variant of unleaded gas at P66 a liter, before the series of price increases.
Logging more hours
Nowadays, they said motorists were no longer asking for the unleaded variant as they just settled for regular unleaded gas, which cost P60 to P61 a liter before the latest round of price hikes.
Cabrera thought his usual P1,500 take-home pay after working 19 hours daily would go up since he started driving the modernized jeepneys plying between Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City and Guadalupe in Makati City last month.
“They said we’ll earn more, but it has been offset by the continuous increase in prices of oil and goods,” he said.
When he was driving his old 16-passenger jeepney, Cabrera said he was allocating P800 to P900 for a full tank.
Now that he’s driving a 22-seat air-conditioned jeepney, he spends P2,000 daily.
Cabrera opted to skip his snacks, saying he was still full after eating adobong baboy and rice worth P45 for his lunch.
But he later admitted: “I wanted to eat more and order delicious meals because I still have a long day to go, but I need to bear with this, so I can take home more [money].”
Cab driver Carlicio Polican Jr. said the money that he was supposed to take home was ending up being used to fill up his gas tank.
“You need to tighten your belt because [gas and market] prices are really high,” Polican said.
Before January, he would spend up to P1,400 for a full tank. Now he shells out at least P2,000.
Polican, a father of three, said he could bring home only P800, which his family spends on food. “But even P800 is no longer enough.”
Since January, prices of diesel have gone up 29 times but have gone down only 11 times, resulting in a net increase of P14.95 a liter.
Prices of gasoline have risen 30 times but have gone down 10 times for a net increase of P14.37 a liter.
“They should have discounts for us with tricycles, just like what they have for jeepney (operators and drivers),” said Rodel Garcia, a tricycle driver in Pasig City.
He used to spend P120 to fill up for a day’s worth of fuel. “Now I need to shell out P200.”
The DOE said at least 10 oil firms representing a total of 1,317 retail stations were offering discounts of between P1 and P3 a liter to public utility vehicle operators.
These companies include Petron, Shell, Caltex, Phoenix, Unioil, Jetti, PTT, Seaoil, Filpride and Total.
As the public braced for a new round of fuel price increases, transport leaders on Monday pushed for an increase in the minimum jeepney fare from P8 to P12 in Metro Manila and sought the suspension of fuel taxes. —With a report from DJ Yap