"While Malacanang is boasting of a good peso performance against the dollar, its effects have not trickled down to the masses and is not even enough to prevent oil companies from increasing oil prices," Jeppie Ramada, Bayan's regional spokesperson, said.
The group believes that the Arroyo administration has already surrendered public interests to big oil cartels after it claimed that oil price increases are caused by "uncontrollable market forces.”
"There is always a way out of these perennial oil price increases if the Arroyo administration will certify urgent the bills pending in Congress repealing Republic Act 8479 or the Downstream Oil Deregulation Law, " Ramada said.
Bayan hits the Arroyo administration for not addressing the issue head on. Ramada added that "the Arroyo administration has only justified oil price increases by appeasing public outrage through a token of a palliative peso-dollar exchange rate, which, according to Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, will help cushion the impact of surging oil prices. The Malacanang is even wise to use the issue to call for critics to stop bickerings. "
The Downstream Oil Deregulation Law of 1988 or Republic Act 8479 was enacted to give private oil corporations a free hand in the production, refining, delivery, operations and pricing of oil products with less state regulation. Upon its approval, the law has promised to encourage competition in the oil industry and lower oil prices.
However, data from Department of Energy stated that 90% of gasoline stations in the Philippines still remain in the hands of big oil cartels such as Caltex, Shell and Petron. Prices of oil continue to increase unhampered.
"The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stated that there is an adequate supply of light and crude, which is sufficient to meet higher oil demands come winter time. However, the cartels are drawn to rake in more profit by overpricing oil products and, unfortunately, our government is helpless to look into this "modern day highway robbery", Ramada said.