The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today hit the country’s oil firms as they raised prices of petroleum products anew this week, the ninth in less than three months.
“These oil companies are like bad dogs without a leash, and the Aquino government just lets them bite Filipino consumers until we bleed,” said Eleanor de Guzman, Bayan Deputy Secretary-General.
Bayan issued the statement as it joined thousands of women and supporters in a demonstration in Manila against oil price hikes and increasing US military presence during the celebration of the International Women’s Day.
“Filipinos are left at the mercy of the big oil companies that impose high fuel prices. The country’s oil deregulation law allows oil firms to further pad local pump prices on top of the already artificially bloated global oil prices,” said De Guzman.
In its recent study, Bayan estimated a 60%-70% overpricing in global oil prices as Dubai crude is being sold at an average of almost $110 per barrel (January 2012) while the cost of exploration, production, and royalties for crude oil is only about $28 to $42 per barrel. The group said that the huge discrepancy in the published price of crude oil and the estimated cost of production represents monopoly profits and speculation.
“The profit-hungry oil firms are raking billions of pesos in profits while consumers are being burdened with weekly increases in the price of petroleum,” said De Guzman, citing Petron’s registered net profits of PhP 8.5 billion for 2011 due to oil price hikes last year.
“It’s government’s duty and responsibility to protect the public from excessive oil prices and unwarranted price increases. It should stop justifying the oil price hikes and acting helpless by blaming the world market,” said De Guzman.
Bayan pointed out that government could take immediate actions to bring down local oil prices, such as removing the 12% value-added tax (VAT) on oil and the scrapping the Oil Deregulation Law.
“Government should control local oil prices and put these oil companies in a leash,” added the Bayan leader.
Bayan called on the public to oppose the incessant oil price hikes and work to end foreign monopoly control over the country’s oil industry.
The group reiterated its support for House Bill (HB) 4355 filed by progressive partylist groups which will effectively regulate the prices of petroleum products and ensure a cheap and steady supply of oil, among others. Bayan said that reversing deregulation and instituting state control over the industry should pave the way for the nationalization of the oil and energy sector, which is the only long-term solution to the problem of high and increasing oil prices. #