Price and fee increases, strike successive blows at start of 2024

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The Filipino people suffered successive blows from relentless increases in oil and LPG prices, as well as water and electricity bills at the outset 2024. While bringing further suffering to the masses, these further enriched private companies long satiated by profits made from running public services and utilities as businesses enterprises

For five consecutive weeks, oil companies raised the prices of diesel and gasoline five times as well. On January 30, they also raised the price of LPG by up to ₱0.95 per kilo or up to ₱10.45 per tank.

Petron, Shell Pilipinas, Caltex Philippines, Total Philippines, Filpride Resources Inc/Mobility Group, Petro Gazz, Seaoil, City Oil, Jetti Petroleum Inc, Unioil, PTT Philippines Corporation, Flying V, Eastern Petroleum and Clean Fuel acted like a cartel in simultaneously and uniformly raising oil prices. This is contrary to claims when the deregulation law was enacted (1997) that “competition” between more “players” will lower the price of fuel.

According to data from the Department of Energy, the net increase of gasoline and diesel prices have reached ₱5.15/liter and ₱4.40 liter on January 30. This adds to the net increase of ₱12.60/liter in the price of gasoline and ₱5.65 in diesel in 2023. Meanwhile, kerosene prices rose by by ₱1.24/liter in 2023.

Oil prices will continue to rise in February, supposedly due to the conflict in the Red Sea and the bombing of oil refineries in Russia, both of which are used to justify increases in global crude prices.

Meanwhile, last 2023, the Marcos regime allowed Meralco to raise electricity rates by ₱0.0846 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) starting January. With a minimum consumption of 200 kwh, a household’s bill will increase by ₱17 per month.
The regime also allowed increases in charges of two private water companies in Metro Manila. Manila Water was authorized to raise its rates by ₱6.41 per cubic meter to ₱42.26 from ₱35.85 in 2023. Meanwhile, Maynilad Water Services Inc increased its charge by ₱7.87 per cubic meter from ₱39.70 in 2023 to ₱47.57.

Overgorged foreign capitalists and local bourgeoisie

Along with price increases, the income of private companies and the personal wealth of the biggest compradores who own them also rose.

Petron, the country’s largest oil company, is estimated to have amassed ₱12 billion in profits for the whole of 2023. This is double the company’s net income of ₱6.7 billion in 2022. Petron is owned by Ramon Ang, who also owns San Miguel Corporation, Eagle Cement and other large companies.

Meanwhile, Shell Pilipinas, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell of The Netherlands, made a profit of ₱2.1 billion in the first nine months of 2023.

Meralco and Maynilad are both owned by Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), which is run by Manuel Pangilinan. Meralco’s revenues is estimated to have reached a staggering ₱37 billion in 2023, 36.34% higher than its ₱27.1 billion revenue in 2022. Not to be outdone, Maynilad recorded a 46% increase in revenues or ₱6.8 billion in the first nine months of 2023. The MPIC is under the First Pacific Company Limited based in Hong Kong and owned by the Salim family of Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Manila Water is owned by Enrique Razon Jr, which earned ₱7.26 billion in revenue in the first nine months of last year. This is 61% higher than its earnings in the same period in 2022.

Ang, Pangilinan and Razon are among the biggest comprador bourgeoisie with billions of pesos in wealth. In the Forbes list, Razon’s wealth grew by $0.9 billion in 2023 from $7.2 billion in 2022 to $8.1 billion. The wealth of Ang, the third richest Filipino following Razon, also increased by 40%! From $3.4 billion in 2022, Ang’s wealth reached $8.1 billion in 2023. Meanwhile, MPIC chief officer Pangilinan’s net worth is estimated at $105 million.

Price and fee increases, strike successive blows at start of 2024