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July 20, 2008

Philippines: Govt to meet refiners over oil price surge
The Philippines government is seeking an urgent meeting with the heads of local oil refiners next week following a big rise in fuel prices on Saturday, AFP quoted officials as saying Saturday.

Refiners in the Philippines have been raising their prices almost weekly, but the latest hike on Saturday raised hackles because it came despite a drop in international oil prices.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes wants to find out whether the latest increases are justified, aides said, adding he could not intervene directly because the government does not control prices.

The retail price of gasoline went up 19 times this year while diesel and kerosene prices went up 20 times, the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper reported Saturday.

Oil industry officials have said the increases are unavoidable as local prices are still below the global standard.

President Gloria Arroyo's popularity has fallen to a record low, a new poll showed Saturday, and her aides have blamed the rising cost of food and fuel.

Protesters have scheduled rallies at the offices of leading oil companies next week to condemn the price hikes.

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