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Filipinas: KMU News Release


August 11, 2003

This was the collective cry of drivers, workers and other protesters as they banged empty LPG tanks, pots and pans and used other types of noise makers in front of Isetann Department Store on Aurora Blvd., in Cubao, Quezon City, beginning at 4:30 pm. Speakers from the ranks of drivers and workers lambasted the oil companies for their greed for superprofits at the expense of the meagre incomes of the working people. The speakers recalled that oil prices tumbled by at least $8 during the height of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, but the oil companies only made a token rollback of P1.70 per liter. “They still owe us P0.86 rollback, or the balance of the total P2.56. So what right do the oil companies have to raise oil prices after they have wallowed in superprofits for the past three months?” This was the question posed by the leaders.

According to Mar Garvida, National President of PISTON, a nationwide organization of jeepney drivers and operators, the sudden drop of oil prices during the American invasion of Iraq only showed that the sudden rise of oil prices beforehand was artificial in nature.

After the oil companies, the Macapagal-Arroyo Regime was held responsible by the protesters for her “deafening silence” in the face of the new assault on the livelihood and income of the small and middle-income earners. “President GMA had the gall to claim in her State of the Nation Address that she was thanking the drivers, who won’t neglect them and would extend help to them,” related Mar. ” The President wanted to look like a firm leader when she frustrated the military mutineers, but her puppetry to foreign investors was exposed by the oil companies’ barefaced move to increase their superprofits. On the other hand, when the drivers and small operators asked for a long overdue fare hike, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) echoed the Office of the Solicitor General’s (OSG) line that drivers and operators to not deserve a fare hike because oil prices have stabilized and will likely go down, that all drivers’ associations have their own terminal based diesel supply, and other blatant lies. After all, what can the LTFRB and the OSG do when it is the President herself who continues to declare that there will be no fare increase!”

Leaders of both the drivers and workers vowed to launch more protest actions in the face of the oil cartel’s announcement that more oil price hikes are in the offing allegedly because of falling oil inventories and the slow downfall of the peso against the dollar due to the remaining threat of a coup d’ etat