Groups to Palace: Stay price freeze on petroleum products

GROUPS on Tuesday urged Malacanang to nullify the decision of oil companies to lift the “price freeze” on petroleum products in calamity stricken areas.

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III can make use of the Price Control Act to effectively thwart plans of oil companies to jack up prices of oil products in times of calamity and extreme economic situation, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the party list group Anakpawis in a statement said.

“The situation merits an indefinite suspension of oil price hike and even the Oil Deregulation Law that allows these corporate vultures from hiking the prices of petroleum products. It said oil monopolies should be stopped from raking super profits in the name of national interest and people’s survival.

“All it takes is a political will to sign an executive order placing the indefinite moratorium on any oil price hike in and out of calamity declared areas,” the two leaders said in their joint statement.
France and Hicap issued the challenge to Malacanang a day after local oil companies raised prices of petroleum products, after lifting the “price freeze” they implemented last week in flood stricken areas,” they said.

Yesterday, the Dutch owned Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and the French company Total Philippines hiked prices of premium gasoline by P1.80 per liter, regular gasoline by P1.70 a liter, kerosene by P1.60 a liter and of diesel by P1.50 per liter.

Leading the independent players is Eastern Petroleum which implemented a similar price hike effective today. Other oil companies are expected to hike prices of gasoline, gas and diesel this week.

Spokespersons of oil companies clarified that the new round of increase in the prices of oil products will be implemented only within the areas affected by last week’s price freeze namely Metro Manila and portions of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Zambales, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.

The groups argued that these areas are gravely suffering from the impact of the two-week long monsoon rains, asserting that tens of thousands of people in these calamity areas are still housed in government designated evacuation centers.

The groups maintained the price freeze in these areas should be applied not only on petroleum products but also on basic commodities and services to enable the affected public to cope up with the lingering impact of monsoon rain inducted calamity over the last two weeks.

According to Pamalakaya small fishing activities in Laguna Lake and Manila Bay are halted over the last 12 days due to heavy flood and thousands of coastal and lake folk families were temporarily relocated in evacuation centers.

The group said around 19,000 fishing families are still housed in evacuation centers in Laguna and more than 12,000 fishing households are temporarily sheltered in Rizal evacuation centers.

It said small fisherfolk have just resumed fishing over the weekend and would be deplorable to greet them with big time hikes in the prices of petroleum products. Pamalakaya study reveals that 80 percent of the production cost per fishing trip goes to expenses on oil products.

The groups further argued that the repeal of Oil Deregulation Law and the nationalization of the oil industry are two immediate steps to arrest unbridled hikes in the prices of oil products in the country.

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