Oil companies have agreed to cut the prices of diesel by P1.50 per liter in an attempt to give relief to the public and cushion the impact of high fuel prices.
In a hastily called press conference, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza announced that the price reduction will take effect Sunday midnight.
Major oil players Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Unioil Petroleum Philippines confirmed the price reduction. Malacañang said it is expecting other oil firms to follow suit.
Dureza said the price cut was the result of President Arroyo’s appeal to oil companies to lower their diesel prices.
He was also quick to clarify that the move was not connected to the latest Social Weather Stations survey results showing Mrs. Arroyo’s net satisfaction rating in June plummeting to -38.
This is her lowest rating since the -33 recorded more than three years ago.
“The President, irrespective of whether she is popular or unpopular, will do what is right to the nation… knowing the President this is a continuing day to day focus by her on how to be able to really help mitigate the adverse effects of the global phenomenon like this (oil price increases),” Dureza said.
Petron spokesperson Virginia Ruivivar said the oil company acceded to Mrs. Arroyo’s request because it could still accommodate the price cut. She, however, admitted that the oil company will have to recover this eventually.
She also could not say if Petron would be willing to implement another price reduction if the President makes the same appeal in the future.
In an ANC interview, Shell spokesman Roberto Kanapi said the oil company will adjust its diesel prices accordingly.
Unioil, meanwhile, said it will implement the P1.50 per liter drop in its diesel prices at 12:01 Monday, citing market competition.
Dureza’s announcement came as diesel pump prices went as high as P58.98 per liter Saturday after oil companies implemented the 20th and highest weekend price hike.
Radio dzMM’s oil price monitoring report said Shell’s diesel increased by P3 per liter at 6 a.m. Saturday. From P55.98, the company’s diesel is now at P58.98. Shell’s unleaded gas and premium gasoline, meanwhile, went up by P1 per liter.
Eastern Petroleum was the first to implement the price adjustment at 5 a.m. Saturday followed by Seaoil Philippines Inc, Shell, and UniOil at 6 a.m.
Eastern Petroleum Corp., Chevron Philippines (formerly Caltex) and Unioil Petroleum Phils. also announced the P3 per liter jump in diesel prices.
Unioil’s kerosene products increased by P2 per liter, Chevron by P1.50 per liter and Shell, P1 per liter.
Flying-V, meanwhile, raised the prices of its diesel and kerosene.
Saturday’s price hike was the 20th this year, and the P3 per liter increase in diesel was the highest so far this year.
Oil companies said more price hikes may be implemented in the coming weeks, citing more underrecoveries, particularly in diesel.
Cecille Lardizabal, ABS-CBN News and Ruby Tayag, radio dzMM