Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Anakbayan slams latest oil price hike, connivance between government and "Big 3"

Anakbayan activists at Philcoa shortly before marching on to
the Commission on Higher Education and Development.

By Chanda Shahani

The national youth group Anakbayan held a noise barrage at Philcoa, and in front of the Commission on Higher Education and Development along C.P. Garcia Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City today to condemn the latest oil price hike, as well as what it called ‘connivance’ between the Aquino administration and the ‘Big 3” oil cartel.

A PhP 6 per kilo increase in LPG prices, or a PhP 66 hike for an 11-kilogram LPG tank, took effect earlier today. This means an 11 kilogram tank now costs PhP 833.

“If the Aquino administration can act quickly to impeach a member of the Supreme Court, why can’t it do the same in protecting Filipinos from oil price hikes? Is it because the government earns billions in ‘windfall’ VAT from the hikes? Is it because his uncle Danding owns a large stake in Petron? Or is it because Noynoy is simply sympathetic towards corporations?” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.

He cited a recent Congressional study which showed that the government earned P70 billion in ‘windfall’ VAT last year, which came from the oil price hikes. Because these taxes are beyond what the government projected for that year, they are not allocated towards the national budget, but in the ‘special funds’ of the Office of the President.

In addition, the youth leader pointed out that presidential relative and big businessman Danding Cojuangco’s San Miguel Corporation owns 51% of one of the ‘Big 3’, Petron.

“Inuuna ang sarili at kamag-anak muna bago ang bayan” quipped Crisostomo.

‘Independent’ review committee?

Meanwhile, the youth group also expressed apprehension over the so-called ‘independent’ committee formed by the Department of Energy to review the books of oil companies.

“How can the committee be independent when some of its members have clear ties with corporations? It’s like the proverbial wolf watching over the sheep” said Crisostomo.

Among the ‘questionable’ committee members is Atty. Vigor Mendoza, the representative for the transport sector as head of the ‘yellow ‘transport group 1-Utak. Aside from being legal counsel for the controversial Hacienda Luisita Inc., his group has also been accused by other transport federations of ‘conniving’ with the government to justify oil price increases.

Another is the committee head himself, former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, whom Crisostomo described as ‘unabashedly neoliberal’ or ‘sympathetic towards coporations’.

(Photo by: Chanda Shahani)

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