By Vince Borneo, contributor
Manila, Philippines- Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo today said that Malacanang should not cave in to the demand of foreign and local businessmen that Executive Order 839, which places petroleum products under price control, be terminated. The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said that the EO 839 is damaging to the oil industry. Other groups have also expressed concern over EO 839, among them the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Makati Business Club, and the Federation of Philippine Industries.
“Instead of heeding the JFC,MAP, et al, Malacanang should defy their warnings and threats, and remain firm in implementing EO 839. There has been a long-standing need to regulate the prices of oil and petroleum products in the Philippines and it had to take a series of major calamities for the government to impose it. The oil cartel and their partners have been chaffing at the bit because their profiteering has been reined in. Their arguments against price controls are blatantly self-serving and do not serve the public good,” Ocampo said.
“If Malacanang caves in, the oil cartel would have again won, and it’s another point proving the weakness and ineffectivity of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration in protecting the public interest,” he added.
Ocampo even challenged the Palace not only to maintain price controls but to overhaul the oil industry by regulating and eventually nationalizing it.
Ocampo called on the JFC, MAP and other business groups to rethink their blind faith on deregulated markets especially since a cartel exists in the oil industry. “Consumers and the rest of the Filipino people are already overly-familiar with the abuses of Shell, Caltex and Petron. Rather than side with the oil cartel, I hope our businessmen will help find ways to bust the cartel and ensure that oil prices are just, reasonable and transparent,” Ocampo said. #