“We condemn the collusion of the Aquino government and Big 3 Oil cartel in its manipulated and cartelized oil price movements and in its extreme exploitation of drivers and the citizens.” – Piston
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Drivers’ group Piston said they are preparing to launch protest actions tomorrow, June 20, and another on June 25, in reaction to another round of oil price hike imposed yesterday, June 18. Piston is set to hold a picket this Thursday in front of the Makati headquarters of oil TNC Shell and on Tuesday next week in front of Chevron headquarters.
The youth group Anakbayan, meanwhile, announced that they will hold a series of “noise barrages” this Friday, June 21, also in protest of this week’s additional oil price hike.
Piston condemns as another “Big Time oil price hike” this week’s P1.45 per liter increase in the price of diesel and P1.05 in the price of gasoline. Public land transport vehicles such as jeepneys, buses, UV Express, Taxis and tricycles mostly run on these petroleum products. According to Piston, this week’s oil price hike is the 5th already in a series of hikes of diesel prices and the 6th in a series of gasoline price hikes since the holding of the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections.
“We condemn the collusion of the Aquino government and Big 3 Oil cartel in its manipulated and cartelized oil price movements and in its extreme exploitation of drivers and the citizens,” said George San Mateo, National President of PISTON.
San Mateo said they have long asked the government to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law, remove the 12% VAT imposed on petroleum products, and to nationalize the oil industry, in “our bid to free ourselves from the grip of this greedy oil cartel.” But, according to San Mateo, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has remained deaf and uncaring. Instead of taking actions to mitigate the peoples’ misery, Aquino takes the cudgels for the Big 3, especially for Petron in which his uncle, Danding Cojuangco, has controlling shares, San Mateo said.
Rather than open the option of raising fares, San Mateo appealed to his fellow transport leaders and to other drivers, to commuters and other motorists, to unite and launch concerted mass actions in opposition to these successive oil price hikes. He reasoned that the public is already burdened, as it is, by simultaneous hikes in tuition and other school fees, water and electricity rates. Meralco, Maynilad and Manila Water all have pending rate hikes. They remain the most profitable private utility operations in the Philippines. On top of these rate hikes, the government has been trying to raise train fares, and it may approve further increases in road toll fees. Private sector workers have also been opposing the impending hike in SSS premiums.
Not ‘pusong-bato’ but heartless
“Heartless” was how Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan, described the ‘Big 3’ oil companies and water firm Maynilad.
“Many parents and students have incurred debts just to be able to pay the astronomical tuition in colleges and universities. For water and oil companies to add to their misery with their own hikes is nothing short of heartlessness and insensitivity” he said in a statement.
The youth leader slammed President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III for his failure to exercise governmental regulatory powers to stop oil, water, and tuition hikes. “What is the use of a government if it cannot regulate the prices of basic goods and services, and is unable to protect the welfare of the poor?” he asked. Consumers such as the Water for the People Network have noted many irregularities in the government-approved big-time water rate hikes every five years.
Consumers have also pointed to numerous questionable inclusions in their water and electric bills, aside from the Value Added Tax which is imposed not just on utilities but also on oil products.
Crisostomo of Anakbayan said that on Friday (June 21) students will join working youth and urban poor in their designated protest centers in Philcoa in Quezon City, Pedro Gil along Taft Avenue, and Stop-and-Shop in Sta. Mesa, Manila. They will be bringing empty water containers to use as ‘noise makers’ to symbolize their protest against the water rate hike and series of oil price hikes.