Oil price hikes: Duterte not helpless – Bayan Muna
Brandishing a list of proposals, Bayan Muna party-list group on Tuesday disputed President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that he was helpless in dealing with global oil price movements “even if you hang me.”
“We beg to disagree,” said the group’s chair, Neri Colmenares, a senatorial aspirant.
“We can do a number of things to at least mitigate or at most stop shocking oil price hikes in the country,” he said in a statement.
Among other measures, the President can suspend or scrap the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act to “considerably lower oil prices,” Colmenares said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate identified three proposals aimed at lowering fuel prices now pending in Congress that Mr. Duterte could help push, if he so desired.
These are House Bill No. 1760 proposing to renationalize Petron, House Bill No. 3676 seeking to regulate the downstream oil industry, and House Bill No. 3678 pushing for the centralized procurement of petroleum.
But “it appears now that the Congress leaderships are afraid of the big oil companies since they are not prioritizing Bayan Muna’s oil price slashing legislative measures,” Zarate said.
On Monday, the President said he could not do anything about high fuel prices in a speech addressing farmers in Buluan town, Maguindanao province.
“Even if you hang me, we can’t do anything. Even if you hang me, if the price of oil rises, the prices of everything will rise because anything you see is a product of oil,” the President said.
He said the Philippines had no “buffer” of fuel reserves to deal with oil price hikes in the world market, unlike neighbors Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Zarate agreed, noting that: “Up to 95 percent of the country’s petroleum requirements are imported, rendering the country exceedingly vulnerable to the dictates of big transnational corporations.”
But he said it was precisely because of such a situation that government intervention was required.
On Tuesday, another round of increase in fuel prices was implemented. —With a report from Jeoffrey Maitem
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