By Bb. Joyce Cabral and Sugar Hicap
Manila, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday dared President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to issue another executive order declaring the state takeover the three-leading of oil firms in the country–Shell, Chevron and Petron to counter the legal challenged opposed by Shell against the current price cap imposed by Executive Order No. 839.
“It confirms that EO 839 has only minimal impact and merely a paper tiger that can be challenged in all venues by the powerful the oil cartel and their apologists in big business. The best way to fortify the people’s position against oil monopoly and other forms of predatory pricing and corporate exploitation is to push the takeover and nationalization of oil industry,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.
Pilipinas Shell has filed an urgent petition with the Makati Regional Trial Court to order Malacanang to lift EO 839 freezing prices of petroleum products in Luzon.
In a petition for prohibition, mandamus and injunction, Shell asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the continued implementation of the EO on grounds that it is unconstitutional.
It named as respondents Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, representing the Department of Energy-Department of Justice (DOE-DOJ) joint task force implementing the order.
“The state takeover of oil companies and the nationalization of the oil industry is the best safeguard for public interest. If Malacanang really wants to serve public interest, it should rush Congress to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law that empowers the oil cartel to treat this country like their one of their oil republics,” added Hicap.
Palace economic spokesperson Gary Olivar in response to big business proposal to withdraw EO 839, said the order was justified but may be lifted on a time schedule, independent of state calamity. But the Pamalakaya leader said the Palace statement was an indication that it is giving in to the pressure of oil companies and big business groups.
“The statement of Olivar is clear. The EO will be lifted at the soonest possible time to please the Big Three which controls more than 80 percent of the oil distribution and marketing all over the country and their business partners in the corporate world. The state takeover and the eventual nationalization of the oil industry becomes a necessity rather than rely on EO No.839,” added Hicap.
The militant group asserted 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 Pamalakaya, is strong political will that should be exercised by President Arroyo and her economic and political officials and advisers.
Pamalakaya also supported the national boycott campaign being called by the militant umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) to punish the oil cartel, which the fisherfolk group accused of 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 also 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.
Last week, 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 interest and common good of the Filipino public. #