Fuel price disparity watchdog formed-A A +A
Saturday, September 14, 2013
THE Visayan Oil Price Watchdog (VOPW) composed of representatives from different sectors and stakeholders was officially created on Friday during the consultative meeting held at the Social Hall of the Provincial Capitol.
The watchdog aims to address the fuel price disparity in Negros Occidental.
Representative Albee Benitez (3rd District, Negros Occidental), who presided the meeting, said the congressmen present were also convinced that it is time to review the Oil Deregulation Law.
The VOPW was created after the Department of Energy (DOE) had admitted it lacks the authority and power to go after the oil companies.
The primary role of the watchdog, Benitez said, is to monitor if indeed, what is behind the unreasonable pricing of the oil companies is the alleged existence of cartelization and predator pricing by the oil firms.
The watchdog, Benitez said, will be created through congressional resolution. He asked Department of Energy (DOE) director Zenaida Monsada to ask DOE Secretary Jericho Petilla to officially recognize in writing the VOPW.
The hearing was attended by Representative Evelio Leonardia (Lone District, Bacolod), Representative Leo Rafael Cueva (2nd District, Negros Occidental), Representative Pryde Henry Teves (Negros Oriental), DOE directors Antonio Labios and Mondadori, as well as officials of the transport groups, business sector, and representatives of sugar planters associations.
Businessman Ed Alunan said while the creation of the watchdog could be the first step to address the disparity, he feels there is an urgency to address the problem of high price of fuel products in Negros at P8 per liter compared to Cebu and Manila.
"We need prices to go down now," he said, citing the move of Cebu officials, who called the representatives of three major oil companies to a meeting and told them she wants the fuel prices to go down.
Cebu also filed cases in court that's why their fuel prices is now is lesser by P10 per liter compared to Negros, said Alunan, adding that stronger government action is needed to solve this disparity in prices of fuels in the province.
Monsada, on the other hand, said while they agree on the creation of the watchdog, they would like the DOE be removed from its composition.
"We will not be part of the watchdog but rather as resource persons to provide the necessary data and documents needed by the watchdog.
We will be there anytime they needed us and provide them the needed documents," Monsada said.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 14, 2013.