Friday, December 10, 2004

Solons support Nov 25 protests against OPHs

Mambabatas Kontra Kartel News Release November 23 , 2004

Alliance of Congressmen slams oil price hikes and increases in prices and
services; expresses support for Nov. 25 coordinated protests against oil
price increases

The Mambabatas Kontra-Kartel (MKK) alliance of legislators opposed to relentless
oil price hikes and increases in LPG prices in a press conference today at the
House of Representatives said that it supports the calls of various consumers
groups and people's organizations against the oil price hikes, including the
demands that the oil deregulation law be immediately subjected to review and
more importantly, repeal.

The MKK is so far comprised of 14 lawmakers, namely Anakpawis Rep. Crispin
Beltran, Alagad Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael
Mariano, 3rd District of Pampa nga Rep. Rey Aquino; Gabriela Women's Party Rep.
Liza Maza; 1st District of Manila Rep. Ernesto Nieva; Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C.
Ocampo; 2nd District of Zambales Rep. Antonio Diaz, Anak Mindanao Rep. Mujiv
Hataman; 3rd District of Bohol Rep. Eladio Jala; Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino;
2nd District of Bulacan Rep. Pedro Pancho; ALIF Rep. Acmad Tomawis; and Bayan
Muna Rep. Joel Virador.

Several transport groups and consumers organizations expressed their gratitude
to the lawmakers' action of forming an alliance against oil price increase in
the House of Representatives. Transport groups are calling on the public to
join them in several protest actions across the country on Thursday, November
25 condemning the recent P1.00/liter and P0.50/liter increase in gasoline and
diesel prices, respectively. They are also calling for the repeal of the oil
deregulation law.

The MKK solons said that consumers and the rest of the public need immediate
relief from the oil prices hikes. They said that soaring oil prices and low
food supplies because of floods in the recent months have already kicked
inflation levels high - the highest in more than five years. Last month,
inflation levels were already pegged at 7.2 percent.

"Prices of food and beverages have increased by as much as 7.1 percent. For food
alone, prices rose by 7.3 percent. This was because prices of basic food
ingredients and materials also increased: corn by 11.9 percent; cereal
preparations, 5.8 percent; dairy products 9.1 percent, eggs by 6.2 percent,
fruits and vegetables, 9.5 percent; and miscellaneous food items 4.5 percent.
Rice price have increased by 3 percent; fish and meat by 9.2 percent and 15.5
percent respectively. In all these price increases, the OPHs have played a
crucial role. These figures can only go up if the oil price hikes do not let
up," the MKK solons said.

Anakpawis Rep. Beltran said that the Philippines is the country in Asia hardest
hit by steep increases in global oil prices. Among the oil -importing economies
of China, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, the
Philippines is in the worst position to cope with the OPHs.

"The actual buying purchasing power of wages and salaries here is much lower
than in our neighbors. Inflation moves faster here. Already, housing and
repairs, fuel, light and water cost have already jumped higher in the last two
months as a direct impact of the oil price hikes. The terms of the purchasing
power of peso has lost at least 40 centavos of its nominal value. The real
value lost is much higher given inflation and the increasing exchange value
versus the dollar," he said.

The MKK solons also expressed alarm over reports that gasoline stations all aver
the country are closing shop because of the OPHs. According to reports, gasoline
dealerships are losing profits and therefore closing shop at an alarmingly high
rate, especially those dealerships of the so-called independent, smaller
players. These closures also mean loss of employment for hundreds of workers.
"No wonder then that even the small players are calling for the repeal of the
oil deregulation law. Only the giant oil companies of Shell, Caltex and
Petron are having a great time at this age of relentless oil price increases.
Their profits are not only intact - they're still growing," they said.

MKK also supports public calls for the following measures as immediate measures
to counteract the OPHs:
1. Centralization of procurement of imported crude oil and refined petroleum
2. Establishment of a buffer fund to be developed from the operations of
centralized procurement to protect local retail prices from sudden increases in
world prices
3. Abolition of specific taxes on petroleum products
4. Widest possible public consultation as a requirement before implementing oil
price adjustments
5. Full disclosure of oil companies' pricing scheme and inventory. #


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