Tag Archives: oil price hike

Philippines 300K fishers asked to join fish strike vs. oil price hikes

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, all.voices.com
MANILA, Philippines- The series of oil price hikes prompted a leftist fisher group in the Philippines to call for a fish strike at the end of this month.
The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged the more than 313,000 small fishermen across the country who operates small fishing boats to go on fish strike on March 31 against the unbridled increases in the prices of petroleum products.
“Let us mark March 31 as a National Day of Outrage Against the Oil Cartel Exploitation and the Puppetry of the Aquino government to multinational oil companies,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a statement.
In a hastily called press conference yesterday held at Pamalakaya national headquarters in Quezon City, Hicap revealed that the national secretariat had issued a memorandum to 43 provincial chapters of the group to join the fish strike on March 31 and convince also owners of commercial fishing vessels to join the nationwide fish strike on March 31.
The memorandum for Fish Strike and No Fish Day was dispatched over the weekend to Pamalakaya chapters in Northern Luzon and Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Negros Island and Panay Island, Far South Mindanao and Northern Mindanao. The March 31 “No Fish Day”, Pamalakaya said, is just the beginning of more protest actions from marginal fisherfolk.
“Let us all express our collective outrage against this national exploitation and oppression courtesy of oil cartel and their incumbent puppet and client in Malacanang. We ask our small fisherfolk and the operators of commercial fishing vessels to join the small fisher people in this fight against this national exploitation for all season,” said Hicap.
Last Tuesday, oil companies raised prices of gasoline and diesel by P 1.50 per liter and kerosene by P 1.25 per liter, the third time in eight days, making the accumulative increases in the prices of gasoline by P 6.75 per liter for gasoline and P 6.50 per liter for diesel since January this year.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the fisherfolk who regularly consume 10 liters of gasoline or diesel per fishing trip are groaning in pain due to the intermittent increases in the prices of petroleum products. He said the cost of petroleum products eats up 80 percent of the total production cost per fishing trip.

Hicap said in 2008, due to weekly increases in prices of oil products, fisherfolk were forced to cut fishing trip from the regular 8 hours to 12 hours to 4 hours to 12 hours. The Pamalakaya leader said small fisherfolk also reduced fishing days from the average 5 to 6 days a week to 3 days a week due to oil price hikes. The Pamalakaya leader said about 313,985 owners of small fishing boats have been affected by the series of oil price hikes all over the country.

For his part, Pamalakaya Vice chairperson for Luzon Salvador France said the oil price hikes also affected operators and owners of commercial fishing vessels. During the same period, France recalled that commercial fishing operators admitted that oil cost make up 65 percent of their companies total production cost per fishing expedition.

“If my memory serves me right, around 50,000 fish workers lost their jobs as 14 tuna canneries in Western Mindanao engaged in tuna fishing and canning closed shops or downsized their operations as a result of oil price hikes and the 12 percent expanded VAT levied on petroleum products,” France said.

He said the Iloilo City based Jumbo Fishing Company, an operator of 30 medium-sized commercial fishing boats grounded its vessels in protest of the weekly oil price hikes and the 12 percent VAT on oil. The fishing company said they pay P 1.8 million per month for VAT on oil alone.

8-point demand
Meanwhile, Pamalakaya national vice chairperson Pedro Gonzalez enumerates the concise 8 point proposal of the group the Aquino administration should undertake to stop the oil price hikes.
1. Immediately impose price control on petroleum products.

2. Compel oil companies mainly the Petron, Shell and Chevron to open their books of accounts to allow the government to identify their practices of overpricing and other forms of price manipulation.

3. Remove from the current prices of petroleum products the amount representing overpriced cost (overpricing reaches P6.72 per liter according to recent study)

4. Recover the P 10.5 billion in total tax credits and incentives given to oil companies.

5. Remove the 12 percent VAT imposed on oil products

6. Use the P 68-billion audit free pork barrel of President Aquino for oil and production subsidies. The allocations would be P 28 billion for small fisherfolk and other rural products using oil products, P 20 billion for small jeepney drivers and operators and the remaining P 20-B for livelihood subsidies of other vulnerable sectors

7. Certify as urgent House Bill No. 4317 authored by Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano calling for the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law.

8. Reclaim or re-acquire the entire Petron to pave way for the nationalization of oil industry.

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Palace dared to takeover oil cartel, nationalize oil industry

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. #

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Satur urges Malacanang to defy business groups demanding termination of EO 839

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. #

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Satur to poll body: Allow militant migrant group to run in 2010

By Sugar Hicap and Lollipop de los Reyes

Quezon City, Philippines- Party list coalition Makabayan today strongly urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to reconsider its earlier resolution to remove Migrante Sectoral Party from the list of accredited party-list organizations participating in the 2010 elections.

“Thousands of overseas Filpinos are in danger of being disenfranchised by this COMELEC ruling. They who contribute so much from the economy have for so long been marginalized by the electoral system. Now, once again, they are being denied their right to representation,” said Rep. Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan.

In an en banc resolution last October 13, 2009, COMELEC barred Migrante and 25 other party-list organizations from participating in the 2010 elections. Migrante, according to the commission, participated and failed to gain seats in two straight elections prior to the upcoming polls.

It is on record, however, that Migrante only participated during the 2004 elections and signified their intent not to run in 2007 while maintaining the option to run in the next election.

“It is clear from its track record that Migrante is a legitimate party-list organization, with the largest and broadest membership among overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines. It cannot be denied that to delist Migrante is to disenfranchise their constituency,” explained Ocampo.

The Makabayan president further pointed to COMELEC’s wild inconsistencies in its decision to delist and maintain party-list groups in its accredited list. For instance, groups like BISA, Pinoy Overseas Party and Banat were allowed to run in 2004 even as they failed to garner the required two-percent of total party-list votes to garner seats in 1998. These groups also failed to run during the 2001 elections.

The activist lawmaker lamented that groups with dubious representation like (Mike Arroyo’s sister) Ma. Lourdes Arroyo’s Kasangga Party-list and butcher general Jovito Palparan’s Bantay Party-list were allowed to participate in 2007 and defame the true spirit of the Party-List System Act.

“All these point to a political motive in the delisting of Migrante. After all, Migrante, along with the other progressive party-list organizations, have been the most vocal in criticizing government misdeeds and even exposing electoral fraud during the past elections,” said Ocampo.

Ocampo also urged the commission not to give in to pressure from Malacañang. He asked COMELEC to give progressive party-list organizations like Migrante a chance to finally run for House seats that would represent the millions of Filipinos long denied of due representation.

While Comelec was slapped with criticisms over its decision to delist Migrante sectoral party list, the militant Bayan Muna party list welcomed the statement of House Speaker Prospero Nograles expressing the urgent need to stop the abuses of oil cartel-Shell, Caltex and Petron.

Nograles also said that the Oil Deregulation Law fell short of its supposed intent to put an end to the monopoly of the big three on the oil industry.

“It’s good that Speaker Nograles has seen the light on this issue of oil deregulation. For the longest time, Shell, Caltex and Petron have been abusing the law by jacking up their prices at the slightest excuse. Oil deregulation has only made the cartel even more abusive, and consumers have been at their mercy since the law was approved in 1998. More than a decade later, we have all seen the disastrous impact of oil deregulation, and it’s high time that the law be repealed,” Bayan Muna secretary general Nathanael Santiago said.

Santiago said that despite Nograles’ assertion that there was no more time to repeal the law, he said that “it was still important for Congress to make the attempt.”

He said that “all it will take is strong and determined political will to repeal the law and send an unmistakable signal to the Big Three that their abuses are not being tolerated.”

“There is still enough time to fast-track measures to repeal the oil deregulation law. If bills pushed by Malacanang can be rushed and even passed in a series of overnight plenary sessions, why not a bill putting an end to oil deregulation? It would be a great service to once and for all repeal this law that has brought nothing but added economic burdens to the people,” Santiago said.

“Bayan Muna is certain that our many lawmakers are willing to sacrifice a few sleepless nights for this effort. The oil companies should be taught a lesson, and this could be a good first step towards regulating the oil industry,” he added.

“If Speaker Nograles will put his influence and clout behind calls for the repeal of oil deregulation law, it will be possible to junk the said law before the end of the 14th Congress,” Santiago said. #

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Pamalakaya demands P 32-billion production subsidy

Pamalakaya demands P 32-billion production subsidy

Manila, Philippines- Members of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list on Monday fried two kilos of assorted fish at the Department of Agriculture (DA) as a symbolic gesture of presenting their demand for P 32-billion yearly production subsidy to caution the impact of global economic and financial crisis.

“This fighting demand of the small fisherfolk for monthly production subsidy to arrest the uncontrollable hikes in the prices of petroleum products was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. But nobody in this government wants to listen and our position paper was reduced into a scratch paper,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the main purpose of the P 32-billion production subsidy is to keep the wheel of production in the fisheries sector moving, because it is currently battered by high prices of oil products and skyrocketing prices of fishing gears and equipments.

Under the annual P 32-billion production subsidy for the fisheries sector proposed by Pamalakaya, all fishermen who own a small motorized banca will receive a minimum P 4,500 monthly oil subsidy, while those who operate non-motorized banca will receive P 2,000 monthly production subsidy.

According to Hicap, the P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. The Pamalakaya leader said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy for 630,000 non-motorized fishing boats operators across the country, will cost the national government some of P1.3 billion per month or roughly P 15.67 billion per year. All in all, the total subsidy for a little over small fishermen will cost he government some P 32 billion in total production subsidies annually.

For her part, Anakpawis party list secretary general Cherry Clemente said 100 percent of the production subsidy for fisherfolk operators of small fishing boats will go to oil, while around 50 percent of the proposed subsidy for owners of non-motorized fishing boats will go to gas subsidy, while the rest will go to other production and food needs of small fishermen.

Clemente said the production subsidies for small fishermen could be addressed by immediately and indefinitely suspending the annual payments of foreign and domestic debts that eats up more than one-third of the annual national budget.

“The proposed fishery production subsidy program is about 10 percent of the national government’s allotment to debt servicing. It would be better if we suspend if not totally stop paying these fraudulent loans acquired and accumulated by the previous and present administrations for their own corruption purposes,” the Anakpawis official added.

Clemente also said the national government should also oblige commercial and aquaculture operators to give their fish workers the mandated minimum wage and certify as urgent the pending bill in both houses of Congress granting private workers a P 125 across the board, across the country wage increase.

To improve the purchasing power of the Filipino fishermen, the workers and the poor, both groups said the government should scrap the 12 percent expanded Value Added Tax on all petroleum products, consumer good, utilities and services.

“These are doable items and sound economic measures to ease the burden and cushion the impact of global economic and financial crisis. But this government is not listening to the concrete and legitimate demands of the people,” Anakpawis asserted.

Pamalakaya likewise dismissed the 700 jobs being offered by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Eastern Visayas to displaced fishermen as “pittance and highly trivial”.

“The small fisherfolk in Eastern Visayas are not begging for alms nor asking for some kind of charitable escapade from the national and local governments. They are asking for decent, sustaining and life-supporting production activities not pittance and super roadshow charity work from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, “ lamented Pamalakaya.

The fisherfolk group was referring to the P 4-million livelihood and emergency employment assistance fund released by DOLE-Region 8, which Forter Pugon, regional director of the employment department said would benefit about 700 marginal fishermen and displaced workers in the region.

Of the P 4-million, P 1.468 million was alloted by the DOLE Region 8 to employment generation projects billed as Integrated Services for Livelihood of the Fisherfolk (ISLA) and the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD), which are currently being implemented in Lapinig town in Northern Samar.

Under the ISLA project of the labor department, the beneficiaries would undertake a small-scale fishing project in Lapinig town, using fish cage and other fishing methods. The project for small fisherfolk will also include enhancement trainings to prepare fisherfolk for another employment once the project is completed by concerned local government units. #

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Palace warned: French like general strike in RP, possible, says leftist group

Palace warned: French like general strike in RP, possible, says leftist group

A militant group warned Malacañang of a scenario of an across-the-nation general strike similar to that was launched by France’s 1.9 million-strong workers is not a remote possibility in the country, given the extreme degree of crisis confronting the country’s 37 million labor force.

The fearless forecast was raised by the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) after Labor secretary Marianito Roque announced that the government maybe looking at 200,000 jobless workers in six months if companies continue to shed jobs at present rate.

“A general strike across-all-sectors and across-the-archipelago is not a remote possibility given the extreme impact of the global financial crisis and the government’s continued implementation of neo-liberal economic impositions despite its adverse and devastating effects to 90 million Filipinos. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top economic officials are facing a social volcano here,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Records of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) show that 18,641 workers lost their jobs as of last week and that 33, 548 were working on reduced hours since companies in economic zones felt the brunt of the global economic crisis and financial crunch late last 2008.

“The scenario of general strike that would include factories, schools, government agencies, transport and farm and fish strikes is not a remote possibility. The current turn of events is pushing and driving the people to stage a general strike that would lead to the crowding of the National Capital Region and other key urban centers and cities nationwide. Mrs. Arroyo is really in big trouble,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Hicap said to cushion the impact of the global economic crisis, the Macapagal-Arroyo government should impose a number of mitigating measures including a stop to mass lay off, moratorium on withholding tax, refrain from imposing new taxes, stop retrenchment of workers, spare the P 12.5 billion SSS funds from corruption, stop water and electricity rate hikes among others.

The Pamalakaya leader added that the government should allow the passage of House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) to ensure genuine land reform to rev up agricultural production in the countryside that will absorb jobless and job-lacking Filipinos all over the country.

Hicap said if passed into law, GARB will lead the national economy to absorb job losses in the National Capital Region and other urban centers, including displaced overseas Filipino workers abroad.

“Free land distribution with guaranteed strong subsidy and support mechanism is the most effective and far-reaching economic measure that would shield the country from the devastating impact and global menace of economic and financial meltdown across the globe,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap insisted.

For the fisheries sector, Pamalakaya demanded a P 32-billion production subsidy to enable the not less than 1 million small fisherfolk and fish workers to continue production and cushion the impact of the worldwide economic and financial crisis.

The group suggested a minimum P 4,500 oil subsidy for all small fishermen operating small fishing boats and P 2,000 for non-motorized small fishing boat owners across-the-country.

The P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by marginalized fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. Hicap said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

As for the P 2,000 production subsidy to non-motorized boats, the proposed production subsidy measure will benefit more than 600,000 small fishermen all over the country. #

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