By Handog Malaya Vera, Gloria Madonna Velarde and Gerry Albert Corpuz
MANILA, Philippines- The hefty oil price increase imposed by multinational oil companies in Manila was met with outraged and calls for heigthen resistance with an activist lawmaker representing poor groups warned of the damaging effects of the latest hike in the prices of petroleum products to ordinary Filipinos.
Leading the offensive against the latest oil price hike is Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Rafael V. Mariano who castigated the oil firms for raising cost of petroleum products even though parts of Luzon are still submerged in flood. The activist lawmaker lamented that oil firms won’t waste a single opportunity to bleed the public dry through successive and unwarranted price hikes.
“Typhoon victims have yet to recover from the catastrophe. This latest price increase will definitely add to their burden. Oil price hikes are man-made calamities wrecking havoc on people’s livelihood.” “After a brief oil price freeze in areas under state of calamity due to the monsoon rains and typhoons that ravaged parts of Metro Manila and Luzon early this month, it’s business as usual for oil companies,” said Mariano.
Oil companies have raised their pump prices twice this week. Last Monday, Shell increased P1.20/liter for gasoline, P1.40/liter for diesel and P1.50/liter for kerosene. Effective today, Shell again raised their prices by an average of P1.70/liter for gasoline, P1.50/liter for diesel and P1.60 for gasoline. Other players like Petron, Total and Chevron have imposed similar price adjustments despite strong denouncements from consumers.
Mariano said these price hikes are totally unjust, unacceptable and deserves the strongest opposition from Filipinos. “This situation is inhumane and reeks of corporate greed. The government is tolerating this sick act of oil companies’ greed for profit by not lifting a finger to stop oil price hikes. In fact, oil companies have effectively transformed the Department of Energy (DoE) as their apologist. “
Mariano said aside from the Oil Deregulation Law which legalized runaway oil prices, the Aquino government is equally liable for these price hikes. “The government must decisively and effectively act to protect the public’s interest and curb the greed of oil companies. The President must exercise political will to stop disastrous price hikes.”
The solon is pushing for the repeal of RA 8479 or the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law and the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on petroleum products to address the perennial problem of oil price hikes.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) likewise denounced the successive increases in oil prices effected this week by the big oil companies calling this "a cruel imposition on the people greatly burdened by the spiralling prices of food, medicine and basic commodities, low wages and unemployment."
The hefty increases in oil prices today follow the similarly large increase in oil prices effected last Monday resulting in a total increase of up to P3 per liter of diesel, gasoline and other petroluem products.
"This two-stage bigtime increase in oil prices reveal the profit-crazed foreign big capitalists who are callous to the grave socio-economic conditions of the people."
"The double price increase this week also expose the hypocrisy of the oil companies with which they announced a suspension of oil price increases last week, purportedly in sympathy to the victims of the heavy rains and floods," added the CPP.
The CPP also pointed out last August 7, amidst the heavy rains and right before the massive floods, oil companies also increased their prices by nearly P1 per liter. Earlier, prices of cooking gas was increased by as much as P7 per kilogram.
"The recent price increases has effectively offset the series of rollbacks effected in the previous months," said the CPP. "Despite the sharp fall in the prices of international crude, decreases in domestic fuel prices were carried out by the oil companies in slow trickles, calculated as such in order to pocket greater profits." The CPP supports the demand of the Filipino people to repeal the 1997 Oil Deregulatioin Law.
"Foreign oil companies that dominate the local oil distribution network take advantage of the oil deregulation law to jack up the retail prices of petroleum products in accordance with their target profits, in complete disregard of the social conditions of the people and the state of the Philippine economy."
"The CPP denounces the Aquino regime for continuously ignoring the widespread clamor to repeal the deregulation law, to put the oil industry under state regulation and control oil prices," declared the CPP. "Furthermore, the Aquino regime fleeces on the people with the imposition of a 12% VAT on the retail prices of oil products that increase government revenues with every increase effected by the oil companies."
"The Filipino people are oppressed two times over under the oil deregulation law and the 12% VAT on oil prices," said the CPP. "Their demand for a rollback in oil prices, the removal of the VAT and the repeal of the oil deregulation law are fully justified."