Gas prices seen to rise over ₱11/L next week, could eventually skyrocket to ₱100/L

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 9) — Prices of gasoline are expected to increase further, latest estimates from government officials show.

In a statement on Wednesday, House ways and means panel chairman Rep. Joey Salceda said gasoline prices could rise by about ₱11.1 per liter next week considering that current crude prices are already at $127 per barrel.

This is way up from ₱3.60/l increase enacted by fuel firms early Tuesday morning.

In a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi reported that gasoline’s common pump price stood at ₱69.28/l as of March 7.

Asked when this could eventually surge to ₱100/l, Cusi replied: “Kung sa pwede, pwede depending on how high it will hit in the world market, which we are all hoping and praying na hindi mangyari.”

[Translation: Whether it is possible, it is possible depending on how high it will hit in the world market, which we are all hoping and praying won’t happen.]

Salceda also forecast possible upward adjustments of ₱9.25/l for diesel and ₱8.88/l for kerosene.

“On the other hand, if spot prices normalize to below USD 120 per barrel, next week’s round of price increases may settle to ₱8.70 on gasoline, ₱7.25 on diesel, and ₱6.96 on kerosene,” added the Albay district representative.

Updates to criteria for state of calamity declaration sought

Should the government not declare his proposed state of economic emergency, Salceda also suggested tweaking the criteria for declaring a state of calamity to also include prolonged oil price hikes.

This can be done by modifying Section 16 of Republic Act 10121, otherwise known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, he added.

“The enabling mechanism for this, set by Memorandum Order No. 60, s. 2019, can be amended to qualify unmitigated oil price increases as “disruption of lifelines such as food supply chains, electricity, potable water systems, other transport systems”,” said Salceda.

LGUs may use disaster risk reduction funds “for relief and recovery programs in order that the situation may be normalized as soon as possible” and impose price controls on basic commodities under such declaration, explained the lawmaker.

Salceda said the current fuel crisis could drive up overall inflation by June to 5.2-5.4%, way above the government’s target 2-4% band. In turn, this could slash 0.3-0.5 percentage points off economic growth, possibly “undermining” efforts to meet the 7-9% goalposts this year.

Economic managers, however, earlier expressed confidence the targets will still be met this year despite recent developments.