By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — A caravan of less than a hundred public utility vehicles composed mainly of FX taxis and jeepneys drove to Malacañang April 19 to condemn the government’s “deafening silence on oil price hikes. They demanded the removal of value added tax (VAT) imposition on oil products. They also called on the public to demand from candidates a commitment to stop oil price increases and scrap the Oil Deregulation Law.
“We’re driving this caravan to Malacañang to serve a wake-up call to the Arroyo administration and to whoever will replace it after May 10 elections,” said George San Mateo, secretary-general of Piston and Anakpawis fourth nominee.
Caravan vs VAT and Overpricing in Oil Prices
The drivers’ group noted that the Big 3 oil companies are “taking advantage of the election fever by launching a renewed offensive in jacking up oil prices.” In this, said San Mateo, the Arroyo government is conniving with the Big 3 oil companies.
Piston (United Alliance of Drivers and Operators Nationwide) said the Arroyo government pockets a share in every rise of oil process. “Every time oil prices increase by one peso, the government automatically reaps an additional P.12 from value added taxes on oil,” said George San Mateo.
Unfortunately, Piston said these billions of pesos collected by the government from VAT in oil products do not trickle back to the people in terms of social services, as the government budget is largely being sucked dry by debt servicing, corruption and anti-people spending such as the huge budget consistently allotted to the military.
Caravan for Votes Vs Oil Deregulation Law
Calling the oil cartel’s past oil price rollbacks as “just for show,” Piston pointed to the fast and steep increases every time there is an increase in world oil prices, but very sluggish and negligible rollbacks when world oil prices would dip.
As of last January, a study conducted by BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) revealed that oil prices in the Philippines have been overpriced by more than P8 ($0.179) per liter. Thus, despite the fluctuation in oil prices, the Big 3 always has these overpricing to profit from, Piston said. The group added that whenever public anger drove the government and the Big 3 to a corner, it always took cover under the Oil Deregulation Law.
“We are calling on all drivers and the people in general,” said Piston, to “choose the candidates for president, senators, congressmen and congresswomen those who are ready to combat the Big 3 and their unabated oil price increases.” (Bulatlat.com)