Piston Stages Transport Strike vs Oil Price Hikes

Posted 6:00 p.m., May 12, 2008

The Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) spearheaded a nationwide transport strike today to demand the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law and the cancellation of the 12-percent value-added tax (VAT) on oil amid continuing oil price hikes.

Piston secretary-general George San Mateo explained that the oil companies are acquiring more profit than expected. He said the scrapping of the Oil Deregulation Law and the cancellation of VAT on oil must be done simultaneously to achieve a long term benefit for transport drivers and the public, as well.

The transport strike was supported by various non-government organizations and militant groups such as GABRIELA, Migrante International, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA or Union of Workers in Agriculture) and more.

In a press release, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) warned the Arroyo government to impose doable solutions that will deal with oil price hikes or face more action protests from the public who are directly affected by the high oil prices. “Isa itong protestang bayan dahil hindi lang driver, pati mamamayan, apektado” (This is a people’s protest because not only drivers but also the people are affected), said Anakpawis secretary-general Cherry Clemente.

“Government must stop acting as if it is helpless. It repeatedly claims that the reason behind oil price hikes are global forces that are beyond its control. But at the national policy level, it can do more. The repeal of the deregulation law and the cancellation of the VAT on oil are two doable options available,” said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr.

“Whatever is the turnout of the strike, it is definite that the Filipinos are fed up with the weekly price hikes and even more sick and tired of the incumbent government that refuses to resolve this problem head on,” says former taxi driver-turned-lawmaker Crispin Beltran, who represents Anakpawis in Congress.

Metro Manila was assessed to have experienced 75-percent paralysis of public transportation. In the provinces, the highest paralysis was in Iligan City with 100 percent. Coming in second was Negros Occidental, the only province that declared a two-day transportation strike, which achieved 98-percent paralysis on the first day.

San Mateo declared that the transportation strike was a success after attaining a total of 90-percent nationwide of public transport. He also announced that Petron has backed down from its original plan to increase its prices by P1 per liter, and has opted instead for a P0.50/liter increase. (Bulatlat.com)

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