Transport group PISTON said the government can mitigate the impact of oil price hikes on drivers and ordinary Filipinos alike by suspending the EVAT and Excise Tax on petroleum products and repealing the Oil Deregulation Law instead of hiking up PUV fare prices.
“While it is the right of drivers to demand substantial earnings in the face of rising oil prices, no matter how much we increase it, it will only skim their pockets and end up as profits for oil companies if the government does not take action to lower petroleum prices,” said Mody Floranda, PISTON National President.
Last year, the government raised the minimum fare for traditional jeeps and minibuses by a peso, citing it as a response to the declining earnings of drivers due to consecutive oil price hikes in the first half of 2022.
Despite the fare adjustment, the lives of drivers did not improve, and commuters found themselves struggling even more. The increased fare added to their expenses, compounded by the relentless rise in the prices of other commodities due to the government’s failure to address inflation.
Meanwhile, in the same year, major oil companies in the country raked in substantial profits. Petron reported earnings of P6.7 billion, surpassing its P6.1 billion earnings in 2021. Caltex continued its business expansion, opening 28 new gas stations in 2022. Shell also recorded increased earnings in 2022, reaching P4.1 billion from P3.9 billion in 2021.
“Without the government taking steps to regulate and control the excessive profits of capitalists, the demand for fare increases will simply lead to nothing, and more Filipinos will continue to suffer from the high prices of commodities,” Floranda added.