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Philippines leader gets oil firms to cut diesel prices

MANILA, July 20 – President Gloria Arroyo has prevailed on oil companies in the Philippines to trim diesel prices to help ease the pain of surging inflation, her spokesman said Sunday.

Diesel pump prices will be rolled back by 1.50 pesos (3.4 cents) a litre (13 cents a US gallon) effective midnight (1600 GMT) Sunday, press secretary Jesus Dureza told reporters after Arroyo met with oil industry executives.

"We are happy with the positive response of oil companies," Dureza added.

"We express thanks to the oil companies."

Oil firms have been jacking up prices almost weekly, the last hike on Saturday.

Press reports said petrol pump prices were raised 19 times this year while diesel and kerosene prices went up 20 times.

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

The Philippines imports all of its oil requirements, and it was unclear how long the diesel pump prices would be maintained at the reduced level.

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.

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Protesters have called for street demonstrations next week.

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