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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, January 25, 2014
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Albee: P300M set
for oil price watch

The creation of Visayan Oil Price Watchdog, an offshoot of the big disparity of fuel prices in Negros Occidental compared to Metro Manila and Cebu, has initially paid off.

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), who headed the creation of the oil price watchdog, said yesterday that the national government has allocated a P300 million budget under the General Appropriations Act, that has been approved by President Benigno Aquino III, for fuel price downstreaming.

This will be used, to provide additional manpower to monitor activities, adopting a watchdog concept, as the Department of Energy felt that a watchdog is a good deterrent against disparity in fuel prices and price manipulation that is detrimental to consumers, among others.

Director Zenaida Monsada, who heads the Oil Industry Management Bureau, had earlier said that the DOE lacks the personnel to closely monitor fuel pump prices nationwide, and does not have the power to curb the oil price disparity that is causing Negrenses and residents of other parts of the Visayas, to +pay much more for their fuel compared to Cebu and Metro Manila because of the Oil Deregulation Law.

Benitez had written to President Aquino to look into the much higher prices of oil in Negros Occidental, compared to other areas of the country. The fuel price disparity had reached as high P8 per liter.

He believes that the budget provision was in reaction to the continuing congressional inquiry and the creation of the Visayan Oil Price Watchdog, Benitez said.

“I hope this is the solution we are seeking for,” he said.

The fact is that DOE has taken action on it, Benitez said, adding that he will meet Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla and ask how he intends to make it functional, apparently referring to the creation of the oil price watchdog.

As to what the oil price watchdog in Visayas has accomplished, he said the awareness has prompted the government to do something, especially in monitoring the disparity in fuel prices.* GPB

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