Christmas is just around the corner, can you believe it? 2021 is nearing its end and then we are going to start “Year Three” of being in this pandemic. Doom-and-gloom people probably did not think the whole world would be adjusting quite well to living through a pandemic that we could already hold media test drives in nearby provinces or celebrate the coming of Christmas in a hotel like what people recently did in Manila Marriott Hotel, Pasay City.
I went to Manila Marriott last Thursday, 4th November, to witness the lighting of their Christmas tree. I caught up with multi-property vice president Bruce Winton and he said during a quick chat over a sumptuous dinner at Marriott Café that the biggest difference from last year’s event is that there were actual people now, milling about in the lobby, instead of it being a totally virtual affair.
It goes to show how far we have come in adjusting and adapting to our new normal that we can now go out and celebrate like we used to pre-pandemic albeit with a whole different set of safety and social protocols.
At the lobby of their beautiful hotel, there was a gingerbread jeepney filled with lights and pastry delights (yes, I really wrote that for the rhyme). It reminded me of the jeepney drivers I see along Luzon Avenue, near UP Town Center in Quezon City, who flag down motorists for a bit of change. I feel for them, I do. And now that gasoline prices are becoming more and more astronomical in range, it begs the question: How come, in the midst of a pandemic, gasoline companies find it easy to raise prices as if we are not in the middle of one?
Is that a naïve question? Is it too ideal of me to think that there is a solution to the rising prices of oil that would benefit end-consumers like you and me and Manong “Jeepney Driver” whose livelihood has been severely affected since the start of the pandemic almost two years ago?
In fact, we have here a few of our presidentiables presenting solutions. For one, Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has called on the suspension of the excise taxes on oil products. Government will lose a bit of income, yes, but the public would highly benefit from such a move. It will slash gasoline prices by about 10 pesos and diesel will be six pesos less. In that vein, liquefied petroleum gas prices will also go down, so the gasul that mommy cooks with will also see a huge cut in prices. Our cooking gas is at 900+ pesos this month from 700 pesos the last time we bought a few months ago — this is just wrong.
Also raising concern over the alarming rate of price increases of oil and electricity, Manila mayor and presidential aspirant Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso vowed that if elected president, he will slash the excise tax by 50-percent on petroleum products and power. I do not doubt that Mayor Isko will be true to his word but, ahh, if only this can be done now.
Vice-presidential aspirant Senator Bong Go has already voiced that he is open to amending the Oil Deregulation Law of 1998. That is a good place to start. The Department of Energy can also look into reviving the defunct Oil Price Stabilization Fund that apparently “cushions the economy from the inflationary effects of prolonged high oil prices.” This was set up by late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. “to protect consumers from fluctuations in the prices of oil in the global market”. If we had that in place now, I think we would not be in so much of a quandary over the rising global oil prices. So, why was it discontinued, what happened to it?
The question really now is, will the people in government step up to help alleviate the burdens of its governed? Everyone will say, “oh, it isn’t that easy,” well, nothing worth doing ever is, but that does not mean you should not do it.
Another big question could be, will gasoline companies find it in their hearts to show some heart and help out its consumers, especially now that the holidays are coming around?
So many questions waiting for answers.
All of this was pre-dinner sparkling conversation between me and my good friend, Mellow 94.7 DJ and motoring journalist, Neil Pagulayan. I would like to thank him and fellow DJ Caz Edmunds for being wonderful dates to Manila Marriott’s Christmas Tree Lighting, which was simultaneously held in all Marriott Hotels around the country. Thanks as well to Belle Cahulogan and Christelle Tolisora for being gracious hosts. Visit Manila Marriott as soon as you can, gasoline prices permitting.
In other unrelated news, it’s my birthday this coming Sunday. I would like to greet myself an advanced happy 34th birthday, may all of my birthday wishes come true, starting with cheaper gas prices for the Philippine motoring public, thank you.