Reacting to the nationwide protest actions spearheaded by transport groups held Monday, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas announced the creation of a tri-agency task force to look into the pricing scheme of oil companies to determine if there is truth to suspicions they work as a cartel to control prices of oil in the country. Along with the Justice and Energy department, the task force will investigate complaints of overpricing and determine if price increases were just and reasonable.
“We find this announcement very suspicious. Was it meant to address the grievance raised by transport workers on oil prices or just another ploy to deceive us and the public?” said Dante Lagman, President of militant transport group Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT).
On September 14, 2011, the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT) filed a complaint with the DOJ. They want oil companies, particularly the Big 3 (Petron, Shell and Caltex), to be prosecuted and penalized for collusion, overpricing and price manipulation.
“In our complaint, we asked the DOE-DOJ task force to act within the 30 day mandatory period. This task force is a mechanism created by the Oil Deregulation Law (ODL) to check abuses by oil companies, contrary to claims by government that they are powerless against patently unfair and unreasonable oil price increases. The wisdom of the 30 day period guarantees swift and decisive action to arrest the exploitative nature of the oil oligopoly. It’s just that this remedy was never exercised. Government opted to protect the interest of oil companies over the masses.” stressed Lagman.
“We fear that the tri-agency of Roxas aims to once again circumvent the law.It is a ploy to let the masses think that PNoy administration is doing something to solve the problems of the country. Worse, it will rule in favor of the oil companies and proclaim that deregulation can still work.”
“The PNoy administration should stop being an accomplice to unjust profiteering by oil companies. It should instead listen to the demands of its people – substantial roll back of petroleum prices, punish oil companies, remove the VAT and repeal the Oil Deregulation Law.” concluded Lagman.