Weekly oil prices hikes added burden to rotating brownouts, high power rates due to El Nino
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Anakpawis Partylist, Kilusang Mayo Uno and transport group PISTON today staged a caravan to protest the successive price hikes imposed by Big Three oil companies and new players. "We will not allow the oil cartel to impose weekly oil price hikes. Their greed and overpricing must stop now," said Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod.
The 50-centavo per liter increase this week is the third price hike so far this month. On March 9, local oil companies raised prices of gasoline by 50 centavos per liter, and of diesel and kerosene by 25 centavos a liter, while on March 3, they increased cost of gasoline by P1 per liter, and of diesel and kerosene by 75 centavos per liter.
During the past three weeks, oil companies have raised retail prices of gasoline by P2.50 and diesel and kerosene by P2.Oil companies conveniently validated the price hikes to the upward trend in the cost of Dubai crude. From last month's $73 per barrel, the prices rose to $77 per barrel in March.
Malacanang tasked the Department of Energy to monitor the pump prices and 'hoped that oil companies would not overprice.'
KMU Secretary General Roger Soluta said Malacanang is acting too naive to hope that oil companies won't take advantage of the situation. "It goes without saying that the Big 3 and independent oil players are always overpricing oil products. They even increase local pump prices when global crude prices are in downtrend. For sure, they will use the current situation to impose unjust price hikes at every opportunity at the expense of consumers."
Soluta said consumers, most especially the transport sector, are feeling the brunt of the latest oil price adjustments. "Oil price hikes are adding torment to the already miserable state of our people burdened by rotating brownouts and increasing cost of power rates due to El Nino."
He said the DOE-DOJ Taskforce, together with the Department of Trade and Industry must take necessary and decisive actions to control price hikes and compel oil companies to impose a ‘big-time rollback.’ It’s all in the power of the DOE to restrain the greediness of the oil cartel. The very least that the DOE can do is to exercise political will in stopping oil price hikes,” the labor leader said.
For his part, Maglunsod said Anakpawis has proposed long term solutions to the oil price hike problem.
“We are pushing for the junking of the Oil Deregulation Law that allowed the free-rein of the oil cartel in the downstream oil industry. These are the challenges we pose to the next administration – to scrap oil deregulation and restore state control in the oil industry, to make significant steps towards the nationalization of the oil industry and finding alternative sources of oil supply including national procurement.”
He said a legislated wage increase is also necessary to help workers cope with the increasing cost of living. “We fully support the P125 across-the-board, legislated wage increase for workers in the private sector. A significant wage increase is long overdue,” Maglunsod concluded. #
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