February 1, 2012
DOE’s Oil Price Monitoring Team
Transport group presses for public welfare framework in review of oil prices and industry
Militant transport workers from the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT) demonstrated outside the compound of the Department of Energy (DOE) to call on the newly-formed Oil price Independent Review Committee (IRC) to put public welfare above oil companies’ profits as they investigate whether or not oil prices are overpriced and oil companies have abused the Oil Deregulation Law.
The PMT welcomed the creation of the IRC but warned against staging the review to justify the continued implementation of RA 8479 or Oil Deregulation Law. They asked the personalities who have agreed to be part of the IRC to conduct an honest examination of the documents to be provided by oil companies and operation of the industry under a deregulated environment with the view of protecting the masses’ interest and welfare.
Larry Pascua, Sec. Gen. of the PMT, stressed “The review must be done to provide justice to our suffering transport workers and masses, in general. Oil companies continue to rake in super profits as evidenced by their sustained stay atop the top grossing companies in the country while the majority of Filipinos carry the burden of spiralling prices of basic commodities due to pressure from high oil prices.”
“This so-called independent review must detach itself from PNoy’s adherence to the oil deregulation policy and his view that it still needs to be strengthened further. Competition or free market and even fair prices are but myths in an industry dominated and controlled by the Big 3 cartel. The IRC must not let itself be used by the administration to simply rationalize and uphold oil industry deregulation like what other reviews have done in the past.”
According to the PMT the enactment of RA 8479 in 1998 only bolstered the control of the Big 3 over the country’s oil industry. The absence of government role in oil pricing set the stage for rampant overpricing and profiteering as oil companies respond quickly and more fully to upward international price movements while being slow and unresponsive to decreases. In 2005, instead of going against such trend, government joined the bandwagon by imposing the Value-Added Tax on petroleum products. Together, VAT and deregulation has devastated the lives of our transport workers and the masses, in general.
“13 years of bitter experience with oil industry deregulation is enough proof for the IRC to propose the scrapping of RA 8479 and also the VAT on oil products. In fact, globally, deregulation and the whole neo-liberal agenda has failed to the secure the lives of the working masses while concentrating wealth to a very small minority. The first and foremost consideration of the IRC in the conduct of the review must be public welfare unless they want to challenge the ire of impoverished people. The PMT will be vigilant in monitoring the development of this review. The IRC members would not want to be on the wrong side of history” concluded Pascua.###