May 24, 2024

Eight times. This is the number of times that fuel distributors increased the price of gasoline this year. For sure, it might not be the last. Should another round of increase happens, the price of fuel might no longer be within the reach of the ordinary Filipino thereby compromising his capacity to live a decent life.
Whether we like it or not, the price of fuel dictates the price of the basic commodities that we consume on a daily basis. The co-relation is inseparable. This is because goods and products are transported from one place to another until they finally reach the consumers via trucks and cargoes that are ran by gasoline. Hence, any rise in the cost of fuel correspondingly carries with it the rise in the cost of what we eat, wear, and enjoy.
With the rampant increase in the price of fuel, especially diesel, people are already feeling the pinch and are crying for help from the government. It seems, however, that the government is inutile to do anything except to blame external forces like the availability of crude oil from Saudi Arabia which is selling at more than a hundred dollars a barrel and the war between Russia and Ukraine, as influencing the price of fuel here and abroad. Still, people are complaining and are urging the government to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law.
Scrapping the Oil Deregulation Law is not as easy as it looks. To do so will run counter to the constitutional provision against the non-impairment clause. You see, the Oil Deregulation Law is like a contract entered into by the government and private fuel distributors that brought about the privatization of the oil industry. This contract cannot be breached unless the constitution is amended. However, an amendment of the constitution is one of the most difficult political exercises in this country. It is next to impossible.
There was a time when the oil industry was under the control and management of the government. The distribution of gasoline and kerosene was a public function much like any other public services rendered. Hence, historically, the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), a government owned and controlled corporation called the shots when it came to the determination of the price of fuel. This is now a thing of the past. Private entities control the fuel industry and though they conceal it, they have monopolized it to the chagrin of the consumers. Well, in a way, this is the result of too much politics.
When the regime that created the PNOC was kicked out of office, the new administration deemed it best to privatize government owned and controlled corporations, including the oil industry.
The reason was shallow: To “democratize” it and enhance a better service due to stiffer competition. In the process, the government had to deregulate and stop meddling in the distribution of oil. What was envisioned as a scheme to make oil prices stable and more affordable turned out to be the opposite because now, private citizens are exploiting the market and are freely dictating their prices.
Currently, consumers are again advocating for the regulation of oil by the government. This may no longer be a feasible remedy. Scrapping the oil deregulation law will only be a band-aid solution to a long term problem. Even the government is not in a position to influence outside forces that dictate the increase in the price of fossilized fuel.
Maybe, the best course of action is to look for alternative ways to move people and products around without necessarily using fossilized fuel. There are alternative sources of energy like solar, wind or geothermal that may be developed. Most importantly, each may do his or her part by learning how to conserve. Only by conservation and sacrifice may we be able to help in mitigating the effects of the consistent increase in fuel prices and make the cost of energy a bit cheaper for all of us.