Sunday, May 01, 2011

Protests greet Labor Day in Mindanao

Photos released to the Mindanao Examiner by the Transport of Southern Mindanao for Independence, Solidarity and Nationalism - Pinagisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide show protesting drivers in a picket in front of gas stations in Davao City and demanded a roll back in oil price hikes. In Zamboanga City, protesters also held a similar rally to denounce the oil price hike. (Text: Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 1, 2011) – Public transport organizations and militant groups in Mindanao held simultaneous rallies on Sunday and protested the high cost of petroleum products and demanded the Aquino government to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law and scrap taxes on oil.

The rallies coincided with the International Labor Day and in Zamboanga City, public transport federations allied with Akbayan party list, held a protest caravan and picketed several gas stations.

The Federation of Land Transportation Associations in Zamboanga and the group called Responsible Union of Empowered Drivers Associations protested against recent oil price hikes and branded the new increase in petrol products as “unjust” and reiterated their call to dismantle the oil cartel and to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law.

“The on-going chaos in the Middle East caused movement of oil prices worldwide, but the supply and price manipulation of the greedy oil cartel, led by Shell, Caltex and Petron, made the suffering of the people worst,” Kabayan said in a statement.

“These corporations exploited the situation and imposed upon the people unjust oil price hikes to feed their greed for profit. The meager income of the already impoverished workers of the public transport sector is now badly affected and resulted to hunger of their families. The marginalized urban poor and vulnerable women carry much of the burden of this crisis as the prices of basic commodities continue to go up while wages and income remain low.”

Akbayan party list Representative Walden Bello said that President Benigno Aquino III should impose price control rather than giving more subsidies to address the spiraling cost of oil and basic commodities.

“I would prefer price control, with the government fixing a price that would enable companies to make a profit but not super profits as they are reaping right now. The price should be reviewed monthly and adjusted depending on international price trends,” Bello said.

Eduardo Mingala, FELTRANZ President and Akbayan Zamboanga City Division Vice President, said the local public transport drivers and operators are also faced with price manipulation of local oil businessmen that peg the price of diesel and gasoline higher than other cities in Western Mindanao.

“This should be investigated by the Zamboanga City Council and sanctions must be imposed to these unscrupulous businessmen that only care about accumulating huge profits at the expense of the poor drivers.” Mingala said.

On the other hand, Hermogenes Awid, RUEDA President, also called on the President to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law because it only added to the burden not only of the public transport groups, but the public in general.

“We are calling on President Aquino to scrap Republic Act 8479 or the Oil Deregulation Law that empowered the oil cartel to impose unjust oil price hikes without Government Control,” Awid said.

This was echoed by Edgar Araojo, the local chairman of the Akbayan party list, saying “the tradition of the Labor Day is for the workers to show solidarity and demand that their right for human dignity must be upheld by the Government. The workers need wage hike and not oil price hike.”

In Davao City, the transport groups also held a picket in front of gas stations and demanded a roll back in oil price hikes. The Transport of Southern Mindanao for Independence, Solidarity and Nationalism-Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide, urged the government to repeal the Value Added Tax and the Oil Deregulation law.

Edil Gonzaga, the group’s leader, said: “The fuel subsidy is useless and a waste of people's money. With the incessant recent increase of oil price, the said subsidy will be beneficial only for the oil giant corporations.”

The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno joined the group in the protest and held a caravan around Davao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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