Protests greet latest round of oil price hikes

ANG BAYAN
21 February 2012

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A series of protest actions greeted the latest oil price hikes on February 14--dubbed as "Heartless Valentine" by the protesters. The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and its allies rallied at the Quezon City Welcome Rotunda and accused Benigno Aquino III of having no compassion for the people. BAYAN asserted that the oil price hikes were without basis since oil prices were merely the result of speculation and manipulation by the foreign oil cartel.

GABRIELA likewise launched its own protest actions at Divisoria, Manila and San Pedro Street in Davao City on the same day. The following day, GABRIELA picketed the Pandacan Oil Depot in Manila. The progressive women's group likened the foreign oil companies to leeches that sucked in profits while the people suffered. Its members called on the Aquino government to junk the Oil Deregulation Law and the Value Added Tax on petroleum products.

The latest round of oil price hikes is the sixth to hit the country in the last two months. Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum, Chevron Philippines, SeaOil Philippines and Total Philippines raised the price per liter of regular and premium gasoline by 50 centavos. Shell, Petron and Chevron likewise raised the price per liter of kerosene by the same amount.

The oil price increases have led the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) to demand a hike in the palay procurement price by P20 per kilo. The National Food Authority currently buys palay from farmers at P17 per kilo.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said that the cost of rice production has risen due to incessant oil price hikes. He said it was but just to raise the palay procurement price because peasants now have to shell out up to P75,000 per hectare, considering expenses for land rent, fertilizers, pesticides and rental of farm machinery.