Group demands scrapping of Oil Deregulation law

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Friday, January 10, 2014


INSTEAD of calling for a fare hike, the transport group Solidarity of Transport Alliance in Northern Mindanao (Starex-Piston) is demanding for the abolition of the Oil Deregulation Law.

“Calling for a fare hike is secondary for us, our primary call is to abolish the Oil Deregulation Law,” said Ringo Lago, secretary-general of Starex-Piston.

Lago said a fare hike would result to additional burden to the people especially that the price of commodities have continued to increase.

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He added that if the fare hike will be implemented, it does not follow that the price of oil will not increase.

“If we increase the fare, it doesn’t mean that the oil price will stop from increasing. It will still increase, so sooner or later we will be calling for another fare hike that will add burden to the passengers and the people,” said Lago.

Lago said while the fare is increasing the passengers’ wage remained the same for a very long time.

‘Not fair’

“It’s not fair for them,” said Lago referring to the passengers.

Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Northern Mindanao (Kadamay-NorMin) through their secretary-general Francisco Pagayaman also believes that to demand solely for a fare hike will only worsen poverty.

He said it is not reasonable for the passengers especially that Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has increased its premiums.

“Not to mention the increase on the Social Security System contributions,” he added.

Pagayaman also said that to alleviate poverty the P125 wage increase nationwide should be approved.

Liza Gargar, a commuter from Iligan City, said it is the poor who will be affected by the fare hike because the rich have their own private cars.

She added that as a commuter it will be an additional burden to her.

Elan Sastine, through an interview via social media, said the lower class will bear the burden of a fare hike.

Trash Oil Deregulation Law

Lago said that the Oil Deregulation law, also known as the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998, allows oil companies to increase or decrease the price of petroleum.

He added that due to that law the government has lost its control over the prices of petroleum products.

“It is the obligation of the government to regulate petroleum products through the Department of Energy (DOE),” he said.

Lago said the big oil companies formed a cartel the control the movement of fuel prices since the law was implemented.

“At present, our government can do nothing about the petroleum prices because it is deregulated,” said Lago.

He said junking the Oil Deregulation Law will give power to the government to control the prices of petroleum products.

“The prices of petroleum should be regulated because a small increase on its price will cause almost all the commodities to increase,” said Lago.

He added that the basic needs the poor can afford will also increase while their income remains the same.

Unity

For a long-term solution to fare hikes due to oil price increase, Lago said transport groups along with the other sectors in our society should call for wage increase and the abolition of Oil Deregulation law.

With regard to unity of the National Confederation of Transport workers’ Union (NCTU) for unity, Lago said Starex-Piston will only participate if NCTU will call for the abolition of the Oil Deregulation Law and additional wage for the workers.

“The NCTU should also call for a long-term solution to the problem,” said Lago.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 10, 2014.

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