Bayan Muna pushes for Bills to lower oil prices

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Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat have pushed for three bills that can help lower oil prices in the long term “so that we can be free from the stranglehold of the oil cartel.”

This, the solons urged, as tensions in the Middle East escalate and oil prices are bound to increase.

Zarate named these “three must-do measures” like the regulation of the downstream oil industry, the centralized procurement of oil and the government buyback of Petron.

Bayan Muna and other members of the Makabayan bloc filed House Bill 4711 to renationalize Petron, House Bill 244 to regulate the downstream oil industry and House Bill 4712 or the centralized procurement of petroleum in the country.

The group called on the House leadership to fast track these bills to shield Filipinos to the escalating oil price hikes.

According to Zarate, up to 95 percent of the country’s petroleum requirements are imported, rendering the country exceedingly vulnerable to the dictates of big transnational corporations.

“The worst implication of this is that our severe dependence on such corporations, which control not only the importation, refining, and retailing of crude and petroleum products from abroad, but also control the exploration, exploitation, refining, retailing, and even re-exportation of our country’s indigenous petroleum and petroleum-based products,” Zarate added.

“These deprives us of the opportunity to be self-sufficient and earn from the development of our own oil industry,” said Zarate.

“Even without factoring in the increases in the world demand for oil and the artificial effects of speculation, world oil prices are unreasonably and unjustifiably high because they are under the control of monopolistic transnational oil corporations,” said Gaite.

“Given this set-up, government regulation is warranted since the State has a responsibility to promote social justice and an equitable national economy and patrimony,” he said.

“As for the centralized procurement of oil, the Big Three, or the local subsidiaries of Shell and Caltex and Petron, claim that they do not overprice, that they set prices based on the price increases of Dubai oil exchanged over the spot market and on Peso-Dollar exchange rate fluctuations,” he said.

For her part, Cullamat said, “Moreover, they continue to still deny the already obvious existence of a cartel, alleging they merely follow the movements of world oil prices”.

“These misleading claim though is belied by the fact that they are minimally affected by prices in world markets and even as they are able to trade in the same currency between subsidiaries,” she said. (CurrentPH/STACY  ANG/JGo)

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