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Piston transport group threatens strike over rising fuel prices

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06:12 PM February 18th, 2013

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February 18th, 2013 06:12 PM

MANILA, Philippines — The militant transport group and partylist Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) has threatened the government with a nationwide protest if the rise in oil prices in the country’s unregulated market is not curbed.

In a statement, Piston national president George San Mateo called on the President to mitigate the effects of high fuel prices that could threaten the livelihood of public transport drivers and operators.

“We will not hesitate to launch a coordinated protest against the consecutive increases in fuel prices,” said San Mateo, Piston’s first nominee in its bid for a congressional partylist seat.

He accused President Benigno Aquino III of prioritizing the campaign of the administration’s senatorial slate, so-called Team PNoy, over state affairs.

Piston officials also criticized fuel distributors for charging higher prices for petroleum products in provinces, where diesel and gasoline have been selling for P4 to P6 more per liter than in Metro Manila.

“Metro Manila prices are already high, but they are charging us even higher in the provinces, even though salaries in the Visayas and Mindanao are lower,” Piston’s second nominee to Congress Edilberto Gonzaga said.

“This price difference is making life harder for people in the provinces,” Gonzaga said.

The group renewed its call for the scrapping of the Oil Deregulation Law, which has been in effect for 15 years.

According to Piston, the price of gasoline is expected to rise 80 centavos this week per liter, while diesel will rise 50 centavos. This would go on top of the P1.20-increase imposed by oil companies last week.

The Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has taken a stricter stance on transport strikes, canceling the franchises of all operators that participate in any move that disrupts services to the public.

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