(STAR) By Donnabelle Gatdula - Major oil firms Petron Corp., Chevron/Caltex and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. will roll back their pump prices by P1 a liter effective on Saturday, a few days after small petroleum companies initiated the latest price adjustment.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) activists, on the other hand, said with world crude prices steadily going down – with Brent crude reaching as low as $105 per barrel – they would demand that oil companies roll back pump prices by at least P7 per liter.

“The recent piecemeal rollback of P1 per liter is hardly enough. World prices continue to decline yet the transnational oil companies have not responded in kind. They have refused to implement a substantial rollback in oil prices,” said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr.

“There is something really wrong and really evil with the oil firm’s callous stand when it comes to the oil price rollback. It tells us of the failure of the oil deregulation law. Even if world prices go down, it is no assurance that oil companies here will bring down prices as well,” Reyes added.

Bayan said the P7 per liter rollback in pump prices merely represents the price hikes in May and June.

“In truth, the oil companies have raised prices by more than P7 over the span of four months. They have burdened the people so much it is only right that they bring down prices substantially given the prevailing world market prices,” Reyes said.

Since August, Petron said gasoline and diesel prices have been rolled back by P6.50 per liter and P4.50 per liter, respectively.

Meanwhile, Malacañang wants the country’s oil companies to explain their formula for adjusting pump prices and justify their rates to consumers.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said yesterday the public has a right to know whether the adjustments made by the oil companies on prices are commensurate to the movements in the world market.

Ermita told radio station dzRH that the consumers are aware of the downward trend in oil prices in the world market and are expecting the oil companies to implement adjustments that are proportional to the reduction in the world market.

“Now that the prices are going down we have to explain this (pump prices) very well and we will find ways to get this information down to the people,” Ermita said.

He said he would ask Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to explain the adjustments in the prices of the oil companies since the department is in constant communication with the firms.

Ermita said he also takes the initiative to call up the executives of the big oil companies just like he did a month ago to inquire about their prices.

Executives of Petron and Shell explained to Ermita that they still have to recover their costs for imports.

From close to $150 per barrel, the cost of oil in the world market has gone down to nearly $100 per barrel. – With Marvin Sy

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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