Tag Archives: oil price hikes

Militants to Yap: “Where were you when we needed you?”

By Cherry Pie Eggpie Sandoval and Lollipop de los Reyes

Manila, Philippines- “Where were you when we needed you?”

The word war between Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and the groups who filed a plunder suit against him last week at the Office of the Ombudsman resumes today as the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and activist party list Anakpawis posed this inquiry to the embattled secretary in connection with the proposed oil and production subsidy for small fisherfolk affected by oil price hikes.

In July 2008, Pamalakaya forwarded a sectoral proposal to the Department of Agriculture (DA) asking Secretary Yap to immediately act on the demand of small fisherfolk battered by oil price spikes to grant the sector oil and production subsidies amounting to P 4,500 per month for fisherfolk owning small motorized boats and P 2,500 per month for fisherfolk using non-motorized boats.

The P 32-b oil and production subsidy for small fisherfolk was submitted to DA in the aftermath of typhoon Frank in 2008 and was followed up after the devastation created by typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng last year. The proposal aims to provide relief and economic assistance to some 900,000 small fisherfolk across the country.

“Secretary Yap, his apologists and his camp of inglorious bastards in DA took our request and just demand for granted,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement. The fisherfolk leader said the money for subsidies could be produced by reducing allocation for debt servicing by at least P 30-billion per year.

‘Instead of addressing the call of small fisherfolk for production and oil subsidies, Yap and company are engaged in prime time and first-rate crime of corruption,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis said Secretary Yap and Malacanang should hail the filing of plunder complaint in connection with the controversial P 455 million ice making machines project against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Sec. Yap, instead of dismissing the plunder complaint as nuisance suit or ideologically driven harassment.

“President Arroyo and Sec. Yap should be happy that they were given the opportunity to defend themselves against charges of first-rate crime of corruption before the Office of the Ombudsman, although this office is widely perceived as corrupt as Malacanang, the Department of Agriculture and other Arroyo infested government agencies,” the groups said.

But Pamalakaya and Anakpawis noticed that instead of welcoming the plunder charges, Malacanang spokespersons simply dismissed the plunder complaint as nuisance and plain harassment of the President and her current favorite official—Sec. Yap.

“Malacanang is sala sa lamig, sala sa init. President Arroyo should be thankful to us because we gave her the chance to defend herself and clear her name. The same applies to Sec. Yap and the rest of the agriculture officials implicated in the P 455 million ice making scandal. However, signs of guilt are now showing ahead of investigation process,” they added.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis likewise challenged President Arroyo to compel Secretary Arthur Yap to resign as chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA) or place him under preventive suspension and force the agriculture secretary to quit from running as congressional candidate in the 3rd district of Bohol.

The groups also reiterated their demands to both chambers of Congress to investigate the unchecked and questionable operations of Nabcor, after the groups found out that in 2007, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported that the Department of Agriculture (DA) attached agency was responsible for the highly irregular procurement of post harvest facilities amounting to P 300 million during the year.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis said part of the findings include the P95.67 million worth were outmoded, unserviceable, incomplete, missing or simply of no practical use to the recipient farmers. “Secretary Yap, his apologists and talking parrots inside DA and NABCOR are saying that all the transactions in the procurement of post harvest facilities are transparent and aboveboard, but the COA findings reveal the exact opposite,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

“It seems to us that Nabcor has been engaged in money making activity under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, and it is shielded by its nature and orientation as a government-owned and controlled corporation free from financial audit and public scrutiny,” the groups added.

Anakpawis and Pamalakaya recalled that in 2008, Nabcor got involved in a national scandal involving 1.4 million hectares of Philippine farmlands that the DA had committed to the Chinese government for the latter’s use in connection with its food program.

The deal was billed as a giant step to modernize the countryside, the deal would allow China to develop the 1.4 million hectares into a modern food-farm complex. But the purpose, according to the groups, was to serve as a major food source for the province of Heilongjiang, which had foreseen a horrendous food shortage occurring in China.

The deal is supposed to be part of the controversial NBN-ZTE deal was aborted due to the strong protest lodged by anti-corruption watchdogs.

In their 16-page plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list said President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and officials of National Agribusiness Council (NABCOR), members of Awards and Bids Committee and owners and operators of Integrated Refrigeration Service System (IRRS) violated Republic Act 7080 or the Anti-Violation Plunder Law, Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act for grave misconduct.

The complainants said the agriculture department through NABCOR awarded the government contract to a lone bidder—the Integrated Refrigeration System and Services (IRSS) on September 2, 2009, which will provide the ice-making unit at P 4,650,000 per unit, or about P 2.3 million higher compared to prevailing industry price for the ice-making machine.

“We will not allow this icing on the cake ice making machines scam to proceed. We will pursue this case in the Office of the Ombudsman, we will write lawmakers to investigate this latest raiding of taxpayers’ money, we will ask the Supreme Court to stop this plunder adventure of Arroyo and Yap and will aggressively explore the parliament of the street to demand truth, justice and accountability,” they said.

“We will even ask and appeal to the Chinese community in Ongpin and Binondo to denounce and disown this Chinese bureaucrat capitalist in the person of Secretary Yap for tarnishing the names of the Filipino-Chinese businessmen who want fair play and conduct honest-to-goodness business in the country,” they added.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list asserted that the P 455- million ice making machine scam is chiefly authored by President Arroyo and members of the syndicate operating in and out of Malacanang and in and out of the agriculture department and that Secretary Yap performed his role to the hilt as the lead actor in this newest high crime of corruption orchestrated by the ruling Mafia in the Palace.

As agreed by parties to contract, the government will pay IRSS the sum of P 455,700,000 for 98 units of ice-making machines with liquid freeze capability which will be supplied to selected municipal fish ports nationwide. But the complainants said the government can obtain 98 units of ice-making machines for P 225 million to P 230 million, or half of the quoted and agreed price with IRSS.

According to information gathered by Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list, NABCOR conducted a preliminary bidding last August 26, and IRSS which won the bidding, was only incorporated on August 25, a day before the preliminary bidding was conducted.

The groups said under Republic Act 9184 (Procuring Law), Section 37.1, the bidder must submit a copy of its single largest completed contract over the past 3 years, and such condition is impossible for IRSS, which was only incorporated on August 25, this year, a day before the preliminary bidding. The contract was finally awarded last Sept.2.

Prior to the filing of the plunder complaint, businessman Allan V. Ragasa, a complainant had filed charges against Sec. Yap and officials of NABCOR and officers of IRSS headed by its chairman Alexander Leung before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the questionable awarding of contract to IRSS. The complaint in violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 9184 was filed on Nov.18, 2009. #

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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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Militants pressed Congress to probe

Militants pressed Congress to probe
Big 3’s P 138 million daily overpricing

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged senators and congressmen to conduct a full-blown inquiry on the alleged day-to-day overpricing activities of big three oil companies in the country, namely Petron Corporation, Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines, which the group said were robbing Filipino consumers some P 138.14 million everyday.

“The Big Three is raking some P 167 million in additional profits everyday due to overpricing and other forms of cartel operations. Congress must do something do to stop this extreme greed and it must do its assignment now, not tomorrow, not next week and definitely not next month,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Quoting the study made by the leftwing umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Hicap said Petron Corporation accounted for P 64.63 million in total windfall from overpricing of petroleum products daily, followed by Pilipinas Shell with P 49.94 million and Chevron Philippines with a daily take of P 23.55 million in total profits from overpricing per day.

The Pamalakaya leader said Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, chair of the House Committee on Energy is not doing his job as head of the committee, adding that until now, no investigation has been made on the alleged overpricing and other manipulative practices of the oil cartel.

“Rep. Arroyo is the chair of House Committee on Energy, but he is nothing but a white elephant in Congress. The deafening silence of Congress on the money making scheme of the Big Three makes it a partner in crime of the oil cartel that includes Malacañang and key officials of the Department of Energy,” added Hicap.

Based on the studies made by Bayan, as of mid June this year, oil products are overpriced by an average of P 4.31 per liter. The group’s overpricing estimates differ from that of NEDA Secretary Ralph Recto because of the methodology used. While Recto said gasoline prices are overpriced by P 8 per liter, Bayan’s computation were arrived by computing the weighted average retail price of all petroleum products including gasoline, kerosene, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

“If that is the case, then prices of diesel should be sold at P 25 per liter and regular gasoline by
P 36 per liter. But because it is overpriced by P 4.30 liter, prices remained at P 29 and P 40 per liter respectively,” Pamalakaya said.

The increases in the prices of petroleum products prompted Pamalakaya to call Congress to legislate a fisherfolk production subsidy bill that will compel the national government to set aside P 32-B in production subsidies to small fishermen across the country to caution the impact of successive oil price increases and the current 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 and the global economic and financial crisis is long overdue. But this government is not taking our legitimate call seriously,” Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said in a press statement.

France recalled that the demand for production subsidy was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. “It’s been in the office of agriculture secretary, but Secretary Yap is not doing his assignment. The small fisherfolk are been kept in the dark with regards to their legitimate crusade for production subsidy,” he said.

The Pamalakaya leader 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 France, 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.

The group 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.

Pamalakaya 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 group said. #

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Pamalakaya urges gov’t to set aside P 32-B production subsidy to combat oil price hikes

Pamalakaya urges gov’t to set aside P 32-B production subsidy to combat oil price hikes

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday urged the national government to set aside P 32-B worth of production subsidies to small fishermen across the country to caution the impact of successive oil price increases and the current global economic and financial crisis.

The militant group pressed the call after oil companies led by Chevron, Shell and Petron raised anew prices of petroleum products by an average of P 1 raising the prices of diesel to P 30 per liter and regular gasoline to P 40 per liter. According to Pamalakaya, small fisherfolk employing small fishing boats used regular gasoline and consumed at least 10 liters per fishing activity.

“This fighting demand of the small fisherfolk for monthly production subsidy to arrest the uncontrollable hikes in the prices of petroleum products and the global economic and financial crisis is long overdue. But this government is not taking our legitimate call seriously,” Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said in a press statement.

France recalled that the demand for production subsidy was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. “It’s been in the office of agriculture secretary, but Secretary Yap is not doing his assignment. The small fisherfolk are been kept in the dark with regards to their legitimate crusade for production subsidy,” he said.

The Pamalakaya leader 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.

The group 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.

Pamalakaya 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 group said.

Pamalakaya also said the national government should also oblige commercial and aquaculture operators to give their fish workers the mandated minimum wage and the President should 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, Pamalakaya 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, the group asserted. #

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