Motorists are seen in one of Petron fuel stations in Manila on October 7, 2008. ( AFP / ROMEO GACAD)

Posts mislead on gas prices under former Philippine dictator Marcos

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Facebook posts circulating in the Philippines have repeatedly shared a photo of a petrol station alongside the misleading claim that it shows "affordable gasoline prices" during the term of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose son and namesake won the presidency in a landslide in May. In fact, the image was taken after Marcos Sr was deposed, while historical accounts indicate gas prices soared in the country during his two-decade rule.

"When gasoline was still affordable, Marcos era," reads a Tagalog-language Facebook post shared on March 4.

The photo shows a gas station belonging to Philippine oil giant Petron, with gas prices listed as: "Unleaded: 11.63 / Extra: 12.10 / Diesel: 7.83".

Screenshot of misleading post taken on June 16, 2022

Marcos led the Philippines from 1965 until he was deposed in 1986. He left the country bankrupt, and killed, tortured and jailed tens of thousands of opponents during his corrupt dictatorship.

His son Marcos Jr won the presidential election in May in a landslide, a reversal in the fortunes of the Marcos family, who have gone from the presidential palace to pariahs and back again in the space of a few decades.

The photo was widely shared in similar Facebook posts, including here, here, here and here, as global oil prices soared.

Comments suggest some social media users were misled by the posts.

"Marcos era. Those were the days, folks!!!" one wrote.

"This will be possible again with BBM", another said, referring to Marcos Jr.

However, the posts are misleading.

'Not Marcos gas prices'

Keyword searches on Facebook found the image shared by Petron on November 24, 2017.

The oil firm did not say when the photo was taken.

However, the Petron logo seen in the image was only used from 1998, according to the company's website, which was more than one decade after Marcos was deposed.

Furthermore, unleaded gas -- which is listed in the photo -- was only introduced to the Philippine market in 1994, according to Petron and the Philippine environment department.

"Extra", Petron's name for its premium unleaded gasoline which features in the photo, was launched in the same year.

Rino Abad, head of the Philippine energy department's Oil Industry Management Bureau, said the gas prices shown in the image corresponded to rates between 1998 and 1999.

"Those prices are not during President Ferdinand Marcos Sr's administration," he told AFP.

Abad provided AFP with a table showing gas prices in the Philippine capital region between 1998 and 1999, which resemble the prices in the photo.

Screenshot of fuel prices in the capital region between 1997 to 1999 provided by the Philippine Department of Energy, with 1998 to 1999 rates highlighted in red by AFP

Oil prices

Historical accounts indicate oil prices soared during the Marcos years.

A 1984 study by the University of the Philippines' School of Economics said fuel prices surged in the country because of the global oil crisis at the time.

"Two successive increases in the world price of oil (1973 and 1978), raised the price of oil 16 times over," the report said.

Marcos himself acknowledged the steep prices of oil in his state of the nation address in 1979.

He said: "The increase from $14.92 per barrel to $18.97 effective July 1, 1976, means an increase of 27%. Translated into domestic prices, this would mean an average increase of 20.4% in the prices of petroleum products."

"The times are difficult and we have to call for sacrifice on the part of everyone," he added.

A 1988 report by the United States Department of Energy says these price shocks contributed to the Philippines' economic decline.

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