January 25, 2012
Members of multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today picketed the House of Representatives to press lawmakers to act on pending bills that aim to regulate oil prices. The group said that these bills should be treated with utmost urgency considering that pump prices are again threatening to skyrocket amid renewed volatility in the global oil market.
Bayan reminded House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte of his commitment to facilitate the scheduling of hearings on the pending oil bills during a dialog with leaders of Bayan last October 2011. Leaders representing Bayan member-organizations Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) and Gabriela sought the said meeting, through Anakpawis partylist Representative Rafael Mariano, with Belmonte, who was also joined by Deputy Speaker Crispin Remulla in the dialog.
Unfortunately, the House energy committee has yet to set a public hearing on the pending bills even as oil prices continued to climb especially in recent weeks. Bayan expressed fear that the uptrend in pump prices will persist in the coming months after the European Union (EU) embargoed oil exports from Iran as pushed by the US, which is accusing the Middle Eastern country of developing nuclear weapons. Iran, meanwhile, threatened to close off the Strait of Hormuz, a critical shipping lane for global oil trade. These developments, Bayan said, will surely fuel more speculation in the global oil market that would further push up domestic oil prices.
The group argued that band aid measures like the Pantawid Pasada program of the Aquino administration are severely lacking even as a palliative due to the intensity of the recurring problem of exorbitant pump prices and unabated oil price hikes. Bayan said that Congress, as the country’s legislative body, must be pushed to initiate a long delayed but much needed policy shift away from oil deregulation in order to truly address the issue of high oil prices.
Bayan has been pushing for the legislation, in particular, of House Bill (HB) 4355 filed by progressive partylist groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Act Teachers and Kabataan that will repeal Republic Act (RA) 8479 or the Oil Deregulation Law and will institute a regime of effective regulation of the downstream oil industry. Other pending bills include HB 2569 filed by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City and his brother Maximo of partylist group Abante Mindanao which will also repeal RA 8479 and revive the Oil Price Stabilization Fund (OPSF).
The group vowed to intensify its pressure on Congress until it takes a decisive action on calls to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law. Bayan added that members of the House and even the Senate could not afford to be too preoccupied with the ongoing impeachment trial of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona to the point of ignoring the economic woes confronting the people such as oil price hikes. #