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Oil firms cut prices before Lenten break

HOLY WEEK break travelers have been given a reprieve after oil companies announced pump price cuts effective yesterday and today to reflect lower crude oil rates.

In separate text messages, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Chevron Philippines, Inc., Total Philippines Corp. and PTT Philippines, Inc. reduced the prices of diesel and kerosene products by a peso per liter and gasoline by 50 centavos.

Shell and Chevron cut rates at 7 p.m. while PTT and Total reduced prices at 6 a.m. today.

According to Shell, imported gasoline and diesel as of March 30-April 3 were at $57.75 and $59.84 per barrel, respectively, as against $59.70 and $62.56 on March 23-27.

Small retailer Flying V, meanwhile, said it would maintain prices as its suggested retail price are still lower than the competition, but the company said it would match the lower prices of competitor outlets near Flying V stations.

As of April 4, gasoline prices ranged from P30.75 to P39.35 per liter while diesel was at P24.25 to P31.28 per liter. Kerosene prices were at P32.10 to P35.73 per liter.

Meanwhile, National Council for Consumer Protection (NCCP) president Elvira Y. Medina said in an interview yesterday they have withdrawn their P1 fare cut petition in light of recent fuel price increases.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) granted last February NCCP’s petition for a 50-centavo fare cut for the first four kilometers.

The downward adjustment was the third reduction in jeepney fares since last November from a high of P8.50 at the peak of fuel prices last year.

Transport group Pasang Masda said that it will file a petition next week to reinstate the 50-centavo provisional fare increase, while the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide said that it is still assessing the situation.

Special bus permits

In a related development, the LTFRB has issued special permits to Metro Manila and provincial bus operators to accommodate heavy passenger traffic during the Holy Week break.

"We have allowed bus operators to take additional operations to accommodate the influx of passengers travelling during Holy Week," LTFRB Chairman Alberto H. Suansing said yesterday.

The approval for 240 permits issued on Friday and effective on April 5-13, granted 153 additional bus units to operate in Northern Luzon, 18 in the Bicol Region, 35 in Southern Luzon, and 34 in Visayas.

Mr. Suansing said the number of travelers is estimated to reach millions.

As this developed, Northern Mindanao is on heightened alert to ensure the safety of travelers and visitors to the region, the regional police chief said.

Chief Superintendent Danilo T. Empedrad said his office is coordinating with local government-based police units for tightened security.

"We have deployed additional personnel at transport terminals and the ports, especially Balingoan" said Mr. Empedrad.

Thousands of devotees, local and foreign tourists pass by Balingoan port en route to Camiguin Island to join the Panaad Festival, a yearly retreat of penitents walking the 64-kilometer circumferential road to Mount Vulcan.

The Iligan city police will increase police visibility in crowded areas, said officer-in-charge Senior Superintendent Oscar D. Aguda, Sr.

Major Michele B. Anayron, Jr., spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division, said the military will support the augmentation of security personnel in urban centers and rural areas of Northern Mindanao.

"We were given orders to provide assistance to commuters or travelers when needed especially along the Balingoan-Camiguin route and to Siargao route [in Caraga]," said Mr. Anayron in a separate interview.

He said that as early as last week, government troops have conducted operations in Northern Mindanao and in Caraga Region to prevent attacks from rebel groups.

Northern Mindanao, specifically Lanao del Norte, has been the subject of violent raids from rogue Moro rebels in August last year.

Power transmission facilities in remote areas in the region have also been attacked repeatedly by saboteurs, including extortion gangs. — Ava Kashima K. Austria, Jose Bimbo F. Santos and Geefe P. Alba, BW

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