Militants want “indefinite suspension” of Oil Deregulation Law

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/18 January)  — Militant sectoral organizations and a church leader, here, decry oil companies for increasingretail prices of petrol products up anew and challenged the Palace to issue an “indefinite suspension” of the Oil Deregulation Law.

The oil price hike is the fourth in less than 20 days.

Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Misamis Oriental-Bukidnon-Camiguin (IFI-Mobuca) called on national government to make sure the recent oil price increases will not be the pretext of subsequent fare increases.

“Grabe! But government should find mitigating ways to discourage fare increase. They can do it by exempting public utility from compulsory EVAT (Extended Value-added Tax) fees which are exorbitant. Again, (we reiterate) our call for scrapping of Oil Deregulation Law,” Calang’s text message said.

Proponents of  Republic Act 8479 or An Act Deregulating the Downstream Oil Industry, said  this is needed to facilitate and encourage adequate and continuous supply of environmentally clean and high quality petroleum products.

The law provides that the state shall liberalize and deregulate the downstream oil industry to boost the oil competitive market and promote the influx of more new players in the industry.

Wildon Barros, Anakpawis Partylist Northern Mindanao coordinator said that in the absence of a law to regulate the oil industry, the Aquino administration can use the “anti-trust law to  effectively stop oil firms from increasing the retail prices of petrol products.”

“It is very clear that the Oil Deregulation Law has been abused by oil companies to jack-up oil prices and rake even more profits from monopoly pricing, overpricing and other monopoly practices,” said Barros.

Richard Colao, spokesperson for the Pambansang Lakas ng mga Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao Region (Pamalakaya-NMR), said  it is well within the powers of  President n Aquino to declare an indefinite moratorium and to scrap RA 8479 since “the act failed to uphold the people’s interest.”

“PNoy should first suspend oil price hikes and the implementation of the Oil Deregulation Law,” said Colao.

He said this will compel Congress to review the oil law so the President would then send “a marching order for its urgent and unconditional repeal, soonest as possible.”

In an e-mailed statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemned the foreign oil companies for the series of spikes in petrol prices, as well as, the “Aquino regime for feigning helplessness, collaborating in effect with the foreign oil cartel in allowing such successive oil price increases, and refusing to rescind the 12 per cent expanded VAT on oil products.”

“The oil companies are stoking the people’s anger by successively imposing price increases, this time using so-called “tensions” in the Middle East as pretext,” the CPP said.

It also enjoined Filipinos to cull lessons from the Nigerians, who launched massive sectoral and public protest actions against the oil price increases.

“For several days, the Nigerian people launched mass demonstrations, workers’ strikes, shutdowns and other forms of protest in response to the jacking up of oil prices by more than 130 per cent.

After a week of protest actions, the Nigerian government was forced to roll back oil prices by 35 per cent,” CPP’s statement reads.

“The Filipino people are bound to wage sustained and intensified mass struggles as they are enraged by the incessant increases in the prices of food and other basic commodities even as wages remain low and as profligate spending by the ruling classes and bureaucrat capitalists go on unabated in the face of mass poverty,” it concluded. (Cong B. Coralles/MindaNews)