MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday blamed the lack of oil resources in the country for why its progress have been overtaken by its Asian neighbors.
The Philippines, he noted, is the second leading country in Asia in the mid-20th century but is now the second to the last because it does not have oil.
"We do not have oil. We do not have the buffer for supply and even the hedge in the economy," he said in a speech during the launch of former President Fidel Ramos's book "Prosper Thy Neighbor."
Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei are "awash with oil," which fueled their progress, he said.
Rising oil prices, he acknowledged, cause "suffering" for Filipinos.
"Every time there is an increase in oil prices, if it’s 60, it’s 60 [dollars] per barrel, we are in trouble. And I will admit to the Filipino nation that it could not just be something like a huge inflation. It will redound to something like almost suffering," he said.
Earlier Sunday, Duterte's economic managers announced that the administration has temporarily suspended the second wave of excise taxes on oil products slated for January 2019 to tame inflation in approaching the holiday season.
This was in keeping with a provision of the tax reform law allowing the suspension if the average price of Dubai crude in the world market reach or go higher than $80 per barrel for the 3 months leading to January.