A MANILA court Wednesday denied anew the motion for reconsideration of advocacy group Social Justice Society (SJS) to stop oil companies from further increasing the pump prices of their petroleum products on a weekly basis.

In a two-page order, Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Silvino Pampilo said petitioners failed to raise any new arguments that would warrant a reversal of his January 11 decision on the issue.

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Pampilo said the matter of stopping the three biggest oil industry players – Shell, Petron, and Chevron – from increasing their prices on a weekly basis is a different matter altogether from his decision ordering the oil firms to open up their book of accounts for scrutiny.

“The denial of petitioner’s motion is not inconsistent with its previous order granting the petitioner’s motion for opening and examination of the book of accounts of respondents. The subjects of the two motions are different,” he said.

The court however granted the motion-in-intervention filed by the transport group Piston, who claimed they are directly affected in the weekly price hikes of oil firms.

Pampilo said Piston was able to sufficiently establish legal standing to intervene, having a membership of around 300,000 jeepney and taxi drivers and operators who are primary stakeholders in the downstream oil industry.

The court earlier admitted a similar intervention made by another transport group, Pasang-Masda.

Last January 11, Pampilo issued a decision turning down for lack of merit the motion for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order filed by SJS for their failure to “establish a clear and unmistakable right to warrant the issuance of an injunctive relief” against the oil companies.

“Although this Court sympathizes with the cry of the masses and the seeming inability of the government to act and remedy the situation, this Court cannot issue an injunctive relief to stop oil price increase, absent any factual or legal basis,” the judge said.

He gave weight on the testimony of experts, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes and economist Solita Monsod, a former National Economic Development Authority (Neda) director, who explained that there is no overpricing of fuel prices.

Monsod, in defending the spate of oil price increases, told the court that there are “no excess profits or monopoly profits and that there are empirical and theoretical basis for her answers.”

Pampilo is hearing the civil suit filed by SJS against the Big Three on allegations that they are engaged in cartelization and predatory pricing, in violation of the Oil Deregulation law. (JCV/Sunnex)