Bongbong Marcos now prefers subsidies over excise tax suspension to address rising oil prices

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Presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos believes the government partly paying for fuel costs through oil subsidies is a better option than suspending excise taxes. (FILE PHOTO)

Parañaque City (CNN Philippines, March 12) — Presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos believes the government partly paying for fuel costs through oil subsidies is a better option than suspending excise taxes.

"Sa aking palagay, ang ating dapat gawin ay magkaroon na tayo ng oil subsidy na 'yung gobyerno ang nagbabayad ng bahagi ng presyo ng langis (ng mga konsyumer)," said Marcos in a campaign speech before Parañaque City barangay officials on Saturday.

[Translation: In my view, what we should do is we should have an oil subsidy where the government is the one partially paying for consumers' fuel costs.]

However, the presidential hopeful did not specify how much the subsidy should be.

Marcos nor his team also has yet to grant interview requests from journalists to further expound his views on the proposal.

He earlier said he preferred suspending taxes, based on his joint statement with vice presidential running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on March 2, saying the suspension would be a form of subsidy for oil companies.

"Mayroon pong mga nagsasabi na 'wag nang magbayad muna (ang publiko) ng excise tax. Ang problema pagkaganoon ang ating ginawa, kapag hindi na magbabayad ng excise tax, mawawalan po ang gobyerno ng ₱117 bilyon bawat taon," Marcos said.

[Translation: Some are saying the public shouldn't pay excise taxes for now. The problem is if we do that, if we don’t pay the excise taxes, government will lose ₱117 billion per year.]

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo had warned about the consequences at a Palace briefing on Friday afternoon.

"[The] Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) or the group of economic managers strongly opposes the proposal to suspend the imposition of fuel taxes because it will translate to significant foregone revenues that will be detrimental to our recovery," Toledo said.

The DBM official explained that the expected losses in government revenues could impact the implementation of state programs, activities, and projects.

Mayor Duterte, meanwhile, said on Thursday that she and Marcos are backing calls for Congress to hold a special session to address soaring oil prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

"Dapat po siguro ay tulungan din ng Kongreso, both Senate and House of Representatives, ang ating executive department sa pag-iisip kung ano pa bang puwedeng magawa ng gobyerno para sa ating mga kababayan," she said.

[Translation: Congress, both the Senate and House of Representatives, should help the Executive department in finding ways on how the government can help our countrymen.]

Oil Price Stabilization Fund

The tandem also supports the revival of the Marcos-era oil price stabilization fund (OPSF), which was set up in 1984 to help protect consumers from fluctuations in global oil prices.

"Ito'y isang pondo na ang kontribusyon ay galing sa oil companies. 'Yung porsyento nang kita nila, ilalagay nila dyan sa pondo na ‘yan," Marcos explained.

[Translation: This is a fund where the contribution comes from oil companies. They will put a percentage of their earnings in that fund.]

"Ang gagawin ng stabilization fund, halimbawa, ngayon tataas bigla ang presyo ng langis, imbes na bigla ang pagtaas, kukuha tayo din sa pondo na iyon para kung may pagtaas man, na di natin mapigilan, ay hindi bigla kundi dahan-dahan ang pag-akyat at sa ganon makapag-adjust ang mga consumer," Marcos added.

[Translation: What the stabilization fund does is that, for example, if oil prices will go up, instead of a sudden rise, we will get an amount from that fund, so that if there's an increase that we can't control, it will not be sudden but gradual so that consumers can adjust.]

The OPSF was scrapped by the Ramos administration to give way to the enactment of the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act in 1998.