“We should think long term.”
While new COVID-19 infections have significantly dropped this week, our rejoicing is cut short with the eighth consecutive increase in prices of fuel. Since last month, oil price hikes have resulted in an P8-increase in both diesel and gasoline. Motorists, especially jeepney and PUV drivers, bewail the rising costs of transportation, as traffic starts to build up again in the metro, along with the easing of quarantine restrictions.
The Department of Energy assured us that these consecutive oil price hikes have minimal impact on power rates. However, as we all know, the upward trend of transportation costs will most likely affect prices of consumer goods in the long run. Just this month, food prices have already significantly increased due to the effects of typhoon Maring in Luzon. With salary rates steady and the continuous economic impact of the pandemic, these successive price hikes will definitely hit many Filipino families who are still financially recovering.
It is time that we looked into these transportation costs. Domestic fuel prices are mostly based on Mean of Platts Singapore (MOPS) which is used by the deregulated oil industry as reference, and on prices of Dubai crude oil which is the country’s benchmark. These standards are altogether affected by global demand and supply. In a nutshell, while the country laments the rising costs of fuel, we have no control over it as they are dictated by international standards and global oil consumption.
While it may seem that there is no fast and easy solution to this decades-long problem, we do have viable solutions. Apart from promoting bicycle use, perhaps we can seriously consider investing in hybrid and electric vehicles. Hybrid and electric vehicles have been in the country for several years now. Around 2014, the COMET mini-buses were launched to augment public transportation in Quezon City. Since then, the use of electric vehicles has only gained this much attention again with the recent influx of electric bikes or e-bikes on main roads.
Hybrid or electric vehicles are known for their sustainability and benefits to the environment with their zero emissions that help cut down greenhouse gases, reduce air pollution, and eventually arrest climate change. Apart from this, of course, is the significant reduction in oil demands and, consequently, oil importation and fuel prices. In a report by the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines, electric vehicles also have cheaper maintenance costs and lesser noise.
In the United States, TESLA has made great strides in advocating for zero-emission electric vehicles as it recorded growing sales in the past years. China is reportedly one of the biggest markets of electric vehicles. Reports also show that Norway, an oil exporter, recorded 54 percent market share of electric vehicles in 2020, with the goal of pushing for an electric-dominated car industry in the country. The Norwegian government has reportedly been giving incentives to electric vehicle users such as tax exemptions, free toll charges, and lower parking fees.
In the Philippines, there are already several automotive companies in the country which produce electric vehicles such as Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai. According to a Land Transportation Office report, almost twelve thousand registered electric vehicles have been registered from 2010 to 2019. The electric vehicle industry has actually so much potential at this point in producing jobs, improving local technology, and helping the environment.
With this, I hope our national government looks into crafting more policies that will promote use and manufacture of electric vehicles. As we hurdle economic crises in this pandemic, it will be better if we think long-term in drawing solutions. Let us go for solutions which can address more than one problem and give sustainable fix to persistent problems. If we want lasting solutions, we need leaders who are prudent enough to put the general welfare of Filipinos first. May this be a reminder that we need to be more circumspect in selecting candidates and casting our votes in the coming elections.