By BRANDON LEE
LAGAWE, Ifugao — On the 22nd General Assembly of the Ifugao Bus and Jeep Operators and Drivers Association (IBJODA), they invited as speaker Mr George San Mateo, chairman of PISTON, a nationwide confederation of drivers and operators. IBJODA claims a membership of 250 drivers and operators.
San Mateo discussed the government’s “solution” to the oil price hikes, the Pantawid Pasada, which has inconsistencies. He slammed the oil deregulation law that allowed the oil industry practice of increasing oil prices and thus the profits of the oil cartel.
Drivers in Ifugao have repeatedly complained about not receiving the Pantawid Pasada due to technicalities that worked against them, for example because of vehicle transfers that were not always registered with the Land Transportation Office.
San Mateo said that even if drivers were all given Pantawid Pasada, they would have to travel to Solano or to the nearest gas station with an Automated Teller Machine where they could swipe the Pantawid Pasada cards.
Since last year, the pump price of diesel has already increased by P2.65 per liter while unleaded gasoline has jumped by P4.60 after seven rounds of oil price hikes
San Mateo said that the oil price hikes and the VAT on oil generate a windfall for the government and the oil cartel even as drivers continue to suffer from increased taxation and increased costs.
A driver reacted in disgust to the oil price hikes and VAT on oil, “Grabe talaga! We are being strangled,” he said.
PISTON is slated to hold nationwide protests on March 15, to call for a halt in oil price hikes and excessive profiteering of the oil cartel.
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