By Sugar Hicap
Manila, Philippines- Makabayan senatorial candidate and Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) urged Malacanang to expand the coverage of Executive Order 389, an order calling on all oil companies to reduce prices of petroleum products at their Oct. 15 levels.
Ocampo, who is currently on a 4-city Mindanao swing to consult local leaders on his planned senatorial run, said: “If the reason for the EO is to protect consumers, why not expand its scope of coverage to include the rest of the country? After all, no one is exempted from the impact of oil price hikes.”
Ocampo’s visit to the cities of Davao, Tagum (Davao del Norte), Kidapawan and Cotabato (North Cotabato) is also in line with the Nov.13 national convention of the progressive party coalition Makabayan, of which he is the party’s no.1 candidate for senatorial elections next year.
“No one finds it easy to adjust to high oil prices and the increases in rates of services and prices of basic commodities. Malacanang should not stop at controlling the profiteering of the oil cartel in Luzon – it should go after the oil companies’ operations in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Ocampo said in a press statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Pamalakaya Times.
Ocampo said that Shell, Caltex and Petron will predictably try to get around the executive order by increasing oil prices outside Luzon.
“Already Shell has released statements paving the way for this move by saying that there’s a shift in commercial and industrial customers’ purchases to retail outlets. We expect Petron and Caltex to follow suit with their own excuses justifying regulated allocations supposedly based on average sales, then eventually, the declaration of a shortage. In the meantime, as the public is focused on developments in Luzon, the cartel will continue to jack up prices in Mindanao and Visayas,” Ocampo said.
“Already, some oil firms have said that they are determining how to allocate their current inventories or hold off their shipments altogether,” Ocampo said.
The Bayan Muna solon also castigated the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Task Force for their failure to monitor the value and volume of import shipments of the oil companies together with duties and taxes paid.
He said that “the DOE and other government agencies tasked to do the monitoring have been less than strict to the point of looking the other way when it came to the predatory business activities of the oil firms.”
“Sec. Angelo Reyes cannot make excuses for this lapse given that a new EO is in place. The least that he can do is to make sure that the oil companies comply with the provisions of EO 389. Punitive action should be laid down against oil firms and their outlets which refuse to comply and sell at approved and designated prices.”
The militant solon argued that while piecemeal efforts to control oil prices such as EO 389 were well and good, they were still far from being enough to curb the insatiable greed of the oil firms.
“Decisive and long-term solutions should be implemented. At the onset, the oil deregulation law should be repealed and all its effects on the oil industry reversed. Petron should be placed under full government control, paving the way for the eventual nationalization of the oil industry. Government control over the industry is necessary to protect consumers from the oil firms’ excessive and unjust profiteering,” the activist lawmaker said.
Earlier, the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the government should takeover the operations of the Big Three, asserting that Malacanang should effect the nationalization of the oil industry since Shell, Chevron and Petron will not take seriously the order urging oil firms to rollback prices of petroleum products back to their Oct.15 price levels.
Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said the government should ask Congress for the repeal of Oil Deregulation Law to pave way for the urgent regulation and subsequently, the nationalization of the oil industry. (With reports from Billy Javier Reyes and Viva Regala-Alonzo).