By: Denn Reed B. Tuvera Jr.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) will check on possible legal violations by major oil firms for their oil price hikes – the 12th time this year, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said in an interview yesterday.
In resolving this issue, De Lima said there is a Department of Energy – DOJ Task Force established and “both agencies need to convene for this oil price issue.”
De Lima has also sent an urgent memorandum to the Office of the President for the establishment of an office which she called “DOJ Office for Competition” that will “address cartels and restrictive agreements.”
The specific function of the said office is a fact-finding or inquiry that will look into “whether violations of anti-trust and related are being committed by person, natural and juridical and make appropriate recommendations, such as but not limited to filing of charges versus those responsible for price manipulation.”
“It will faithfully carry out constitutional and existing legal provisions against combinations in restraint of trade,” De Lima emphasized.
Moreover, De Lima said deregulation or privatization does not mean big business is free to do anything under the sun. “Public welfare is paramount. The proceeding will depend on the specific industry and/or nature of the case.”
Last April 11, the oil firms announced its largest wave of pump price hikes the largest time so far this year to as much as P1.50 per liter.
At around 11 pm of the same day, major oil company Chevron Philippines (formerly Caltex) said it would hike its prices of Gold, Gold E10, Silver, Silver E10, and diesel by P1.50 a liter; regular gasoline by P1.25 a liter; and kerosene by P1.40 a liter.
By 12 am last April 12, another oil company, Pilipinas Shell, enforced the same set of price hikes. On the other hand, Petron Corp., the other remaining major oil firm, announced at noon Tuesday it has also officially increased its product prices by the same increments.
The hikes in oil prices reflected the major increase in the international product prices, commented Bobby Kanapi, spokesman of Shell Corporation. World crude prices in Asia have reached to $113 per barrel last week which was high for two years.
In total, petroleum products in Metro Manila are now averaging as follows: Unleaded, P56.50 a liter; Diesel, P48 a liter, and Kerosene, P55.50.