Baguio Transport Groups to Join Nationwide Protests

As drivers in Metro Manila and other key cities nationwide are expected to launch a transport strike May 12, the militant transport group here would stage a march-rally with red flags and banners demonstrating drivers’ demands.

BY JOHN ERIC B. ESCALANTE
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 14, May 11-17, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – As drivers in Metro Manila and other key cities nationwide are expected to launch a transport strike May 12, the militant transport group here would stage a march-rally with red flags and banners demonstrating drivers’ demands.

Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston)-Metro Baguio president Carlito Wayas said that they would lead the march-rally at 9:00 a.m. May 12 from the Post Office to Km 0 along Session Road. This will be a part of the nationwide transport strike of Piston on May 12 opposing the continuing oil price hike in the country.

Different sectors all over Metro Baguio are expected to join the march-rally.

According to Wayas, the increasing oil price has affected the lives of the small operator-drivers in the country, which has its domino effect on the basic commodities and services.

“For the past years that we have been protesting, the government has failed to address this problem” Wayas said. He said nothing is left in the income of operator-drivers because of the high cost of crude oil and basic needs.

“Unjust” policies like the 12- Restructured Value-Added Tax (RVAT) on crude oil have caused operator-drivers and the common people to suffer, according to Wayas. He added that what was supposed to be a tax on the oil companies was passed to the consumers, making more profit for the oil cartel.

Re-nationalize oil industry

On Monday, Petron’s Board of Directors will announce its decision on whether it would sell Saudi-Aramco’s 40-percent share in the company to the Australian company Ashmore.

Petron was a state-owned oil company until Marcos’ administration sold 40 percent of its share to foreign investors such as Saudi Aramco. In 1994, 20 percent was sold to private individuals which means that only 40 percent is now owned by the government.

Department of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes recently announced that the government could buy the 40 percent share of Saudi Aramco.

“If this happens, the state would own 80 percent of Petron which is a big factor in influencing its oil pricing. If Petron lowers its price, then the other oil companies would follow suit,” Ignacio Pangket, chairperson of the local urban poor group Organisasyon Dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (Ornus), said.

According to Pangket, Petron supplies 40 percent of the country’s oil and around 180,000 barrels of its oil and gasoline are used everyday.

“We also call for nationalizing the oil industry here,” said Wayas. “The Philippines has oil reserves, which, when utilized, will almost supply our needs.”

If the government develops the oil resources in Malampaya and Cotabato, the price of oil would decrease.

But the government has permitted multinational companies to operate these, according to Wayas. He added that “the President herself is pushing foreign companies to invest in the country.”

Oil and natural gas reserves in Malampaya and Cotabato can supply the country 30 percent of its natural gas needs and 80 percent of its oil requirements, according to Pangket.

“In nationalizing our oil industry, we need political will. The current government has failed to address our call to control oil pricing because it is serving the interests of other countries,” Pangket added.

Continuous call

“The EVAT and Oil Deregulation Law which serve as the bases of the oil cartel for increasing the prices of oil products should be scrapped,” said Wayas. If the Oil Deregulation Law (is) scrapped, the government would have the power to control pricing, (and) the oil companies would have to consult the Energy Regulatory Board before (implementing) any increase,” added Wayas.

This mean the price would be P4.60 ($0.108) less for every liter of crude oil, the transport leader pointed out.

“They [oil companies] are saying that the cost of purchasing is too high. They are hiding the fact that they are after the profit. Every liter of oil increases by P1 ($0.02) every week. We call for the P4-5 ($0.09 to $0.11) per liter rollback in oil prices,” Wayas said.

Protests are expected to continue as oil prices increases. According to Wayas, organized drivers nationwide would continue to call for the immediate ouster of Arroyo “who does not address the problems of the Filipino people.” Northern Dispatch / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)

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