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(Update)House leader urged Palace to expand EO 389 coverage

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).

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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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