March 14, 2012
In protest against oil price hikes:
Workers “die-in” at EDSA
then march to Energy Department
Some 200 workers from the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) rallied today in front of the Department of Energy office in Taguig. The protest is part of the groups’ campaign against spiraling oil prices and their demand for the end of oil deregulation and for state control of oil prices.
The socialist labor center also condemned the Department of Energy (DOE) for acting as “envoy of the oil oligarchs”. BMP spokesperson Romy Castillo said, “The department displays uncanny energy and enthusiasm when it warns the public against higher local oil prices every time the price of oil spikes in the world market. Their announcements not only condition the minds of the public to accept an oil price hike”.
He added, “More so, it promotes the fallacy that local oil prices automatically correspond to world market prices. Oil companies in the country have a buffer supply for two months. They also overprice their commodities.”
The labor leader pointed out that the price of crude oil in the world market decreased by 17.25%, from $145 per barrel at the height of the 2008 oil crisis to its present level of $120 (Dubai benchmark). During the same period, there was also a decrease in local oil prices but not in proportion to its drop in the global market. Local gasoline and diesel prices decreased by 1.61% and 4.12% respectively, from P59.46/liter to P58.50 (for gasoline) and from P52.44 to P50.28 (for diesel).
If local oil prices truly follow the global market, as asserted by the Energy Department, the BMP concluded, “Local oil prices should have dropped higher than the global decrease of 17.25%. Because the peso-dollar exchange rate is at P42.40:$1, as compared to P44.28:$1 in 2008”.
The labor group also chided the Independent Review Committee set-up by the energy department to review the financial statements of the oil firms. Castillo averred, “The IRC is a toothless tiger, being a recommendatory body. There is also an internal arrangement between the IRC and the department on the non-disclosure to the public of the oil firms’ book of accounts. The IRC was formed to conjure the illusion of transparency as the people’s clamor against overpriced oil prices intensify”.
Before the protest in Taguig, the workers staged a “die-in” at EDSA Guadalupe to highlight the urgency of their demands for government control of oil prices, the removal of VAT on oil, the buy-back of Petron and Energy Development Corporation and the scrapping of the oil deregulation law. The activity stopped traffic for a few minutes as protesters lay down along the country’s busiest thoroughfare. #