Jeepney drivers question non-suspension of fuel excise tax despite rising oil prices

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2022 10:04 AM

A jeepney driver refills his gas tank at a station in Manila on March 15, 2022. Motorists and commuters continue to struggle as oil prices continue to skyrocket. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
A jeepney driver refills his gas tank at a station in Manila on March 15, 2022. Motorists and commuters continue to struggle as oil prices continue to skyrocket. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A jeepney driver group on Monday questioned why the excise taxes on fuel under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law has not been suspended yet despite the continued rise in global crude oil price. 

TRAIN has a mechanism for the suspension of fuel excise tax if world oil prices breach the $80 per barrel mark.

"Yung remedyo sana na pwedeng gawing ng gobyerno katulad ng pagsuspend ng excise tax nakalagay sa TRAIN LAW na kapag umabot na ng $80 per barrel automatic po na isu-suspend na ang excise tax," Manibela national president Mar Valbuena told Teleradyo.

(The remedy that the government can implement, like the suspension of fuel excise tax under TRAIN law that if prices per barrel breach $8- it can automatically be suspended)

"Ang presyo ng krudo ngayon naglalaro na sa $120 - $128 per barrel. Matagal na po dapat sinuspinde ito," he added.

(Crude oil price now is around $120 to $128 per barrel. It should have been suspended long ago)

Dubai Crude, which is the benchmark used by the Philippines is currently around $116 per barrel.

Prices of petroleum products have surged globally after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February. The conflict has dragged, pushing the volatile fuel prices up as well as the prices of other commodities.

Inflation has been breaching the 2 to 4 percent target for the past few months, partly due to the surge in oil prices. In May inflation accelerated to 5.4 percent. 

MEAGER FARE HIKE

Manibela also lamented the meager fare hike of P1, which Valbuena said would not even compare to the recent fuel price hike with last week's increase of over P6 for diesel. 

This week, diesel prices are also poised to increase by over P4 per liter.

"Sunod sunod na dagok po ang nararamdaman natin pero ang idinagdag lang sa pamasahe ay piso," Valbuena said. 

(We're being hit by successive blows but the approved fare hike was just P1)

Valbuena said the minimum fare has been stuck at P9 even when fuel prices were just P36 back in 2018. Fuel prices are now hovering between P80 to P84 but the fare is almost the same with an additional P1. 

He said some jeepneys drivers stopped ferrying passengers since there was no point in working if they would not earn even a cent.

"Pag ang batas pabor sa gobyerno napakabilis. Pag ang batas o polisiya para sa taong bayan napakabagal po at napakahirap po makamtam," he said.

(If the policy favors the government, it gets approved fast but if it's for the people, it takes too long and it's very difficult to achieve.)

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier decided to keep excise taxes on fuel and approved a subsidy for the vulnerable sector instead. 

The Finance Department said suspending the fuel excise tax could result in foregone revenues of P147.1 billion. 

Watch more News on iWantTFC