Transport group PISTON and labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno protested against the series of oil price hikes at Welcome Rotonda on October 29.

Since January this year, the price of diesel has already increased to P 18.25 per liter, while gasoline price increases have reached P 20.8 per liter.

PISTON National President Mody Floranda lamented how many jeepney drivers have lost income for more than a year, still has not regained what they used to earn given the various restrictions still in place as the country continues to struggle with COVID-19, while some were still unable to return to their livelihood still because of various restrictions. Now, they also have to bear unabated oil price hikes.

Floranda also lamented the Quezon City Police District’s intimidation of the protesters.

“Dapat kilalanin ng ating kapulisan ang ating karapatan, dahil ayon nga sa ating Constitution, [Article III Bill of Rights, Section 4]…wala pong batas na nagbabawal sa isang mapayapa at tahimik na pagkilos ng mamamayan,” he said.

[The police should recognize our rights, because according to the Constitution, there should be no law that should prohibit a peaceful and orderly protest of the people.]

Barring and depriving protesters from expressing their dissent and demanding reprieve are contrary to constitutionally-mandated rights of the people, he asserted.

“Kitang-kita, mga kasama, na ang ating mga kapulisan ay hindi nagsisilbi sa interes at kapakanan ng mamamayan. Kundi, sila ang pangunahing nagtatanggol sa malalaking monopolyo ng kapitalista sa usapin ng industriya ng langis dito sa ating bansa,” Floranda said.

[How obvious that the police do not serve the interests and welfare of the people. Instead, they are the main defenders of big monopoly capitalists in the country’s oil industry.]

The series of oil price hike have pushed marginalized sectors, especially workers and those who lost their jobs and livelihood during the pandemic, into deeper poverty as prices of basic commodities increase along with oil price hikes, said Kilusang Mayo Uno Secretary General Jerome Adonis. This, he said, has pushed them to join the protest of jeepney drivers.

In August, the Department of Trade and Industry approved price increases as high as P 2.25 for manufactured food products.

Calls to remove oil taxes, implement wage increase

“Kami pong mga manggagawa ay tuluyan nang naudyok sa napakatinding kagutuman dahil po sa tuloy-tuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng produktong petrolyo. Kaya kaisa kami ng buong mamamayan sa panawagan na dapat tanggalin ang excise tax. Dapat tanggalin din ang E-VAT,” Adonis said.

[Us workers have been pushed to extreme hunger due to the continuing increase in prices of petroleum products. That is why we are one with the people in removing the excise tax [on oil]. E-VAT should also be removed.]

Adonis added that once the government moves to remove the TRAIN Law tax additions and E-VAT from the current oil price, almost P 18 will be slashed from oil prices. This, he said, will provide immediate relief to the people.

The TRAIN Law or Republic Act 10963 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2017. It was the first of four tax packages under Duterte’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program. The government touted the lower personal income tax provision of the law, but many assailed how higher consumption taxes add even more burden even to the poorest of the poor.

The law also introduced a three-year rollout of excise taxes on petroleum products from 2018 to 2020. Excise tax of P 1, 2 and 3 will be added on LPG prices in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. Excise tax on diesel will add P 2.50, P 4.50 and P6 in the current price, while gasoline prices will be topped up with P 7, 9 and 10 in excise tax in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Adonis said it is high time for government to raise workers’ wages.

The minimum wage in the National Capital Region has been stuck at P537 for non-agriculture workers since November 22, 2018. Retail/service establishments employing 15 workers or less and manufacturing establishments regularly employing less than 10 workers in Metro Manila get a lower minimum wage of P 500.

Junk oil deregulation law

Alongside calls for lower oil prices, protesters also challenged the government and the national elections candidates to junk Oil Deregulation Law.

Anakpawis Party-list National President Ariel Casilao earlier dared presidentiables to declare the scrapping of the Oil Deregulation Law as part of their platforms. The former lawmaker co-authored the Petron Renationalization Act and Downstream Oil Industry Regulation Act bills filed by the Makabayan bloc during the 17th Congress.

The Oil Deregulation Law or Republic Act 8479 allowed price adjustments from private oil companies without public consultations. The government has also privatized or sold to private companies its oil refineries and companies, leaving the people to deal with the price dictates of private companies.

Various groups have also accused oil companies of overpricing, implementing higher price hikes when global prices rise, and lower price rollbacks when global prices fall. This is on top of the dictated prices of the oil monopolies, which were alleged to have been overpriced as well. Adding to that burden are the high taxes imposed by the government, who also earn more when oil prices increase.

In October 18, the Department of Energy wrote to both Houses of Congress to ask the legislature to amend Oil Degulation Law to allow the agency to intervene in rising fuel prices. The energy department also asked Congress to require the unbundling of the cost of retail fuel products “to determine their true and passed-on costs.” The agency required this through Department Circular No, 2019-05-0008, but this has been subjected to an injunction from a Regional Trial Court upon the opposition of the oil industry players.

According to the DOE, the country’s oil requirement is at 425,000 barrels a day, around 0.4% of the world supply.


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