Filipinos were hit Monday with a double-whammy of increases in the prices of oil and bread products, even as the government announced it was set to implement a P500-million program to subsidize fuel discounts for farmers and fisherfolk as provided by the national budget for 2022.
The country’s oil firms raised pump prices for the fourth consecutive week by as much as P1.90 per liter of diesel effective 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Gasoline went up by P1.45 per liter while kerosene was P1.70 more expensive.
Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil company, said the price increases reflect the movements in the international oil market. Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Chevron Philippines, Cleanfuel, Seaoil Philippines, and PetroGazz also announced the latest price hike.
Bakers and bread companies, meanwhile, announced a P3 hike on the price of budget bread, specifically Pinoy Tasty and P1.50 for Pinoy Pandesal pack, effective Feb. 1, 2022
The Philippine Baking Industry Group (PhilBaking) said the group has been holding off the price increase despite the rising costs of raw materials, particularly imported flour.
By February 2022, the price of Pinoy Tasty will be at P38 from P35 and Pinoy Pandesal will be priced at P23 per pack from P21.50, they added.
In a GMA News TV report, community bakeries are resorting to using agricultural products like sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and malunggay (moringa) to substitute for flour and keep their bread prices low.
“My brother-in-law is thinking of what to replace the expensive ingredients with so that customers keep buying his breads,” bakery owner Mariella Villanueva said in the television interview, adding that supplies of these farm products should be assured by the government, so bread prices remain affordable.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to implement the “Fuel Discount for Farmers and Fisherfolk Program,” as provided under the Special Provision No. 20 of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 or Republic Act (RA) 11639.
Under Special Provision No. 20 of 2022 GAA, a total of P500 million shall be used to provide fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk when prices of crude oil reach US$80 per barrel for three months.
“Provided, that the farmer or fisherfolk beneficiary owns and operates an agricultural and fishery machinery individually or through a farmer organization, cooperative or association: Provided, further, that in the case of fisherfolk, their fishing vessels are registered in the Integrated Boat Registry System or DA-BFAR’s BOATR: Provided, finally, that for the farm machinery owned and/or operated by individual farmers or farmers’ organization, proof of ownership shall be provided,” the special provision read.
The DA Regional Field Units and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Offices shall issue fuel vouchers to qualified beneficiaries to claim the fuel discount, and to deduct 1.5 percent of the said amount for administrative and other operational expenses.
Unioil Petroleum Philippines said over the weekend pump prices will likely go up by P1.90 per liter for diesel and P1.45 per liter for gasoline this week to reflect the changes in the international oil market.
World oil prices climbed last week amid robust demand and supply concerns.
On Jan. 18, the oil firms raised the price of kerosene by P2.30 per liter, diesel by P1.80 per liter and gasoline by P0.90 per liter.
On Jan. 11, they raised gasoline prices by P0.75 per liter, P1 to P1.10 per liter for diesel and kerosene by P0.90 per liter.
The oil firms also raised the price of gasoline and kerosene by P1.85 per liter and diesel by P2.40 per liter on Jan. 4.
“This is brought about by an increase of consumption in China, which starting buying wheat grains while Russia has slowed down their wheat exports because of food security issues and wheat crop failure in America due to harsh winter and drought, or global warming,” said Philbaking president Johnlu Koa.
Bakers said prices of flour had climbed to P1,000 per 25 kilogram bag from P955 in the last quarter of 2021 and from P690 in August of the same year.
Koa reiterated the rule of thumb many industrial bakers follow—that for every P50 increase in prices of flour there is a corresponding P1 increase in prices of bread. Koa noted the price of flour which has nearly doubled in the last five months warrant at least P3 increase per loaf.
Aside from flour, other raw materials and ingredients also went up including LPG which now costs almost P1,000 per cylinder. Other
ingredients such as sugar, cooking oil, margarine, and fats have also increased prices.
“We sincerely thank President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the honorable members of the Senate and House of Representatives for approving and appropriating P500 million for the fuel subsidy program that will benefit millions of Filipino farmers, fishers, and consumers
nationwide,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a news release on Monday.
“The fuel discount will definitely help reduce the production and transport costs of major farm and fishery products, and subsequently
temper their respective market prices, thus benefiting producers and consumers alike,” he added.
“The DA shall furnish the Oversight Committee on Agriculture a copy of the implementing guidelines and submit quarterly reports on the implementation of the program,” the department added.
DA Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan said the targeted beneficiaries for the provision of fuel discount must be registered under the DA’s Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) and BFAR’s fisherfolk registry system.
Last week, Cayanan chaired a meeting of officials from the DA Regional Operations Group, national rice and corn program directorates, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to flesh out the implementing guidelines of the fuel discount program.
The program includes the prioritization criteria, amount of discount voucher to be provided to qualified beneficiaries, and creation of a technical working group (TWG) that will oversee the crafting and finalization of the guidelines and program implementation. The TWG
will issue regular updates on the matter.