Fishers group presses state takeover of Big Three

By Viva Regala-Alonzo

Manila, Philippines- The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday pressed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to issue another executive order declaring state takeover the three-leading of oil firms in the country–Shell, Chevron and Petron over the oil cartel’s refusal to bring down prices of petroleum products in times of emergency crisis and calamity.

“In the name of national interest and public trust, we challenge Mrs. Arroyo to sign and issue another executive order calling for the government takeover of the oil cartel. Her government should quit playing the typecast role of oil cartel puppet and radically change the situation by nationalizing the oil industry and purse state ownership and operations of petroleum sector,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said the takeover of Shell, Chevron and Petron will just take less than 24-hours by mere declaration and issuance of an executive order, and all it takes, according to Hicap, is strong political will that should be exercised by President Arroyo and her economic and political officials and advisers.

Pamalakaya admitted the takeover will face strong resistance and defiance from oil cartel and the latter will provide layers of legal obstacles and processes to resist nationalization of oil industry.

The militant group said while the takeover or nationalization of the ownership and operations of the oil cartel might take sometime or is still being processed, the national boycott being called by the militant umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is an immediate task to punish the oil cartel, which the fisherfolk group said is exploiting the economic and humanitarian crisis to further advance their unbridled campaign for super profits.

“The boycott of the three oil firms becomes necessary at this stage to weaken their political position brought about by their control of the 80 percent of oil supply and distribution all over the country. The campaign for boycott of Shell, Chevron and Petron will make a difference in favor the exploited public,” the militant group said.

While the proposed takeover is still being discussed or debated, Pamalakaya suggested an immediate and unconditional full-blown inventory of petroleum stocks of oil companies after Shell Philippines country chair Edgar Chua predicted an oil shortage and investment backlash if oil firms will follow Palace order to bring down fuel prices to their levels 12 days ago.

Last Friday, the Office of the President issued Executive Order No. 839, which directs oil companies to bring down prices of petroleum products to their Oct.15 levels. On Oct.20, prices of gasoline were raised by P 1.25 per liter, while prices of diesel were raised by an average of P 2 per liter.

The order to freeze prices of petroleum products will be in effect until President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lifted the State of Calamity she declared in the entire Luzon. The Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) will strictly implement the executive order.

But Pamalakaya said an across-the-country inventory of the oil stocks of Shell, Chevron and Petron to determine if there’s truth to the warning of possible shortage in supply in case the these three oil firms which control more than 80 percent of oil market all over the country reduce their prices at prevailing levels less than 2 weeks ago.

“Aside from full-blown inventory of oil products, Malacanang should also open and scrutinize the books of accounts of Shell, Caltex and Petron and have their records broadcasted in the tri-media for public consumption and public discourse,” the group added.

Pamalakaya said the three oil firms will also resist inventory and auditing of their stocks and financial conditions and profitability, and therefore, it is only lawfully and morally just for the government to take over the ownership and operations of Shell, Chevron and Petron towards their nationalization for the common interest and common good of the Filipino public. #

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Filed under global economic and financial crisis, oil price hike

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