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Uncertain times

Fuel prices are expected to be jacked up once again today, by as much as 4 pesos per liter, despite the Department of Energy assuring Filipinos that the war in Ukraine has no direct impact on the country’s oil supply.

If you come to think of it, fuel prices shouldn’t be shooting up so quickly every time something happens on the global stage but it does for us. Case in point is today’s mega price hike which coincidentally comes a week after Putin’s mad invasion of Ukraine. The price of crude oil shot up in global markets as a result of the war but whatever fuel products we have in the country and in the gasoline stations must have been imported and refined many weeks ago. And yet, here we are, facing a P4/liter price hike with many more sure to come in the coming weeks/months.

Vladimir Putin’s war is not going well. He somehow got it into his head that the Ukrainians would surrender as soon as he declared his great Russian army would go ahead with their “special military operation.” Analysts reckon that the Russians responsible for the war were so confident of their assumptions that they prepared for a 3-day invasion.

Well the Ukrainians didn’t surrender and it turns out they are determined to fight for every inch of their homeland. They’ve managed to hold back the Russian army that was supposedly modern and massive. The Russians, on the other hand have run out of food and fuel, and are stuck in the mud. They’ve resorted to indiscriminate shelling and missile attacks, committing war crime after war crime against the civilian population of Ukraine who instead of laying down their arms and welcoming the Russians with sunflowers and hugs; have taken up arms and are resisting fiercely.

The war is not going to end unless Putin is given a way out of this mess he created by the international community that is currently imposing massive sanctions against him, his cronies and his country’s economy. If he dig his heels in and proceeds with the unthinkable destruction of Kyiv and the rest of Ukraine the way he displayed his military might with Chechnya’s Grozny in 1999 and Syria’s Aleppo in 2016, our world may never be the same again and that is something we will have to prepare for. Being thousands of kilometers away from the conflict zone won’t insulate us from the global turmoil.

If you come to think of it, our world was just starting to change… possibly for the better, when we thought we could be getting over the hump as far as the COVID pandemic is concerned. Just as employers were starting to consider distancing their employees from the ubiquitous work from home arrangement, this happens and as workers prepare to make the daily commute a part of their day, our world is now facing the prospect of skyrocketing fuel prices.

Aside from joining the UN General Assembly in condemning Russia’s act of war, our government hasn’t done much so far. Our President’s early vacation mode was rudely disturbed by his idol’s war. There are proposals to suspend VAT and excise tax on fuel but when your government is already neck-deep in debt, that’s a tough call to make and our Congress that has to make that decision hasn’t even been called to an emergency session yet.

We need fuel to get to work. Farmers need it to till and irrigate fields and crops. Our archaic and inefficient public transportation system depends on it. I don’t know what our limit is when it comes to the pump price of fuel but I reckon we must be nearing it by now. What happens when we reach that upper limit, I don’t know. Do we stop going to work? Can we go back to WFH? Are we going to be smacked by inflation and how do we deal with that? Based on the series of crises we’ve been facing and are sure to face in the future, whoever is going to lead this country next is going to need more than a fake university degree.

We live in uncertain times. And although we may be more fortunate than the Ukrainians and Russians who have to deal with the madness of Vladimir Putin, we have to be preparing ourselves for the worst. Especially if our country’s leadership doesn’t get an upgrade come May.

Excited we may be to get back to some sort of “normal” after the beating our lives and lifestyles took from the pandemic, we may have to proceed with extreme caution and discernment in the coming months.*

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