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The Committee on Energy of the Provincial Board is set to invite the representatives of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the association of local gasoline station owners in the province next week to explain the controversial high cost of fuel in Palawan.
This was the result of the deliberation of the members of the highest policy-making body of the Palawan after the information on the exorbitant price of gasoline and diesel made headlines as Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexie Nograles announced yesterday, during his visit, that DOE is now investigating the issue.
“Ito po ay hindi makasasagabal sa imbestigasyon [na ginagawa ng DOE], dahil tayo po ang pinakamataas na governing body [of the province] …at doon po [sa committee meeting] pag-uusapan [ang isyu] para makagawa tayo ng mga resolution at ordinansa na makatutulong sa mga consumers,” Board Member David Francis “Bon” Ponce de Leon said during their regular session earlier today, Nov. 26 at the Capitol Legislative Building.
He reiterated that he fully supports his colleague from the south, Board Member Ryan Maminta, to support the effort of the Energy Department in the hopes to lower down the cost of fuel for the benefit of the Palaweños.
“[Ang] alam po natin sa norte ng Palawan, hindi lang po P10 [ang dagdag-presyo]; mayroong P20 or mas mahal pang presyo,” Ponce de Leon, who is from the Municipality of Magsaysay, further added.
First-termer BM Maminta tackled the issue by bringing the controversial topic to the plenary through availing the Privilege Hour.
“Kapag, kinumpara talaga natin ‘yung presyo ng fuel from national standard from our neighboring provinces, particular in Mimaropa and in Western Visayas, para pong mayroon tayong additional na P10 doon sa costing ng fuel. So, at the end of the day, ‘yung imbestigasyon po ay makatutulong sa atin kung paano natin makita ‘yung tamang pricing ng fuel dito sa lalawigan ng Palawan at siyudad ng Puerto Princesa,” Maminta said this morning.
According to him, in strengthening the measures being done by DOE, they could at least give support to the investigation through a resolution stating that the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan are with them “in coming up with the right solutions and in finding recommendations on the pricing of oil in the Province of Palawan.”
He argued that the consumers should be protected, especially because fuel cost has great impact to the lower levels of society.
“Halimbawa, ‘yung ordinaryong mangingisda, bibili siya ng dalawang litro [ng gasolina o krudo], may additional P20….So, ‘yung price na ‘yun, isang kilong bigas na [sana] ‘yun. That’s why, we want to have concrete findings regarding these allegations and then recommendations from Department of Energy [in order to solve this problem],” he said.
“Kasi kung mayroon silang (petroleum product dealers) usapan na ‘Sige, sabay-sabay tayo, mag-add-on tayo ng P10’ ay bawal ‘yun sa Philippine Competition Act; it is [also] against the Consumer Protection Act na dapat proteksiyon sila (konsyumer) sa profiteering and excessive price ng ating fuel products. Although, this is an unregulated sector, pero mayroon pa naman tayong pwedeng mapagkunan ng proteksyon doon sa [binanggit kong] separate acts,” Maminta explained.
In a separate interview with Cabinet Secretary Nograles, yesterday, Nov. 25, after he gave his keynote address during the “Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change Resilience Conference” at Palawan State University, he stated that he has having doubts on the contention of the local oil dealers in the City of Puerto Princesa and in the province that the price of fuel they are selling here is heavily dependent on transportation costs.
“Base sa aming investigation, hindi naman ganun kalaki…hindi naman aabot ng P10 ‘yung transportation cost ng ating gasoline at diesel [dito],” Nograles stated.
“Nagtataka po kami kung bakit ganoon kataas, mas mataas ng halos P10 per liter ang kamahalan ng gasoline at diesel dito sa Palawan kaya inimbestigahan na ‘yan ng Department of Energy. At ang panawagan po natin sa mga oil companies na tingnan po natin na baka naman masyadong mataas ‘yung presyo na pinapatong po [ninyo] sa gasoline at diesel dito sa Palawan at sa iba pang areas sa Mimaropa Region,” he said, pertaining to the concerned companies and individuals.