A SENATOR on Wednesday appealed to fuel companies to provide discounts to consumers as global oil prices continue to rise.

“In the absence of oil price control under a deregulated regime, we urge operators of gasoline stations to ensure competitive prices by offering its customers discounts on fuel products,” Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, said in a statement. 

“It is unconscionable at this time to amass earnings as high oil prices squeeze the people dry,” she added. 

Since the beginning of the year, gasoline prices have increased by P7.95 per liter, diesel by P10.20, and kerosene by P9.10. This week, local oil firms raised gasoline prices by P1.20/L, diesel by P1.05, and kerosene by P0.65.

Consumer group Laban Konsyumer, Inc. had said that high fuel prices drive inflation, which affects consumers, especially those in vulnerable sectors.

The discounts, Ms. Poe said, “will benefit both the public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and private motorists who are hurting from the incessant oil price increases as we continue to survive through the pandemic.” 

The government, she added, should immediately release the subsidy for PUV drivers allocated under the 2022 national budget.

“In vetting the list of beneficiaries, we expect concerned agencies to be thorough so that no qualified PUV driver is left behind without any assistance,” she said. 

House Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate, meanwhile, called out the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for failure to provide an update on the distribution of subsidies last year. 

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Zarate said the agency has not disclosed if the 136,000 public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers who were qualified to get fuel subsidies in 2021 had already received them.

“The LFTRB that is in charge of the minuscule fuel subsidy for jeepney drivers seems to be sleeping on its job even when oil prices already went through the roof,” Mr. Zarate said in Filipino. 

LFTRB told BusinessWorld via Viber on Wednesday that 136,230 jeepney drivers have already received their fuel subsidies and the total disbursement was about P980.86 million. 

“Beneficiaries include franchise grantees (Traditional and Modern PUJs),” LTFRB-National Capital Region Director Zona R. Tamayo said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan