Intensify protests by 10 times against 10th increase in fuel prices

This article is available in Bisaya

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) joins the Filipino people in condemning the profit-hungry oil companies, in collusion with the Duterte regime, for imposing today an atrocious increase in petroleum prices that will for certain bring about worse suffering upon the Filipino people. The Filipino people must intensify their protests by 10 times to condemn the 10th increase in oil prices since the start of the year, and demand an immediate rollback in petroleum prices to at least the end of 2021 levels as a form of relief from the worsening socioeconomic conditions.

Fuel prices have increased by up to ₱15 to ₱17 per liter since the start of the year, in addition to increases of around ₱16 per liter in 2021. Prices of diesel and gasoline have shot up by around ₱30 since the end of 2020 when a liter of diesel was around ₱36, and a liter of gasoline was around ₱48.

Oil companies are driven by their lust for profit when they reason that they have to increase oil prices because the prices of crude oil have shot up as a result of the war in Ukraine, and that without increasing their prices, they will suffer with lower profits.

The Filipino people must reject this obscene justification which only means it is the toiling people who will always have to carry the burden of the oil companies’ profits. In the first place, oil companies are selling old stocks. They buy mostly finished products from giant oil refiners in China, Japan, Korea and Singapore which have giant reserves of crude oil and are not affected by fluctuations in the prices of crude oil.

Petroleum products in the Philippines have long been overpriced by the oil cartel and their foreign owners and partners. It has been revealed that prices of some oil companies are overpriced by at least ₱10 per liter because of rampant smuggling and non-payment of import duties. There is completely no transparency in the computation of oil prices, including the costs of imported diesel, gasoline and other petroleum products. What is clear is that oil companies are in collusion with each other in pushing up prices to earn maximum profits.

The Duterte regime is in collusion with oil companies in raising fuel prices because it collects more taxes, both in the form of the value-added tax and excise tax. The government’s energy officials are the first to justify the increases. It is estimated that the Duterte government has raised revenue collection by more than ₱75 billion from oil taxes. Duterte has refused to suspend collection of excise taxes in complete disregard of the clamor of the people.

To justify its complete lack of action, the Duterte regime is hiding behind the Oil Deregulation Law of 1998 which gives oil companies free rein to set the prices of oil products, purportedly to encourage competition, which in fact are non-existent in the time of monopolies and cartels.

Giant oil companies, oil producing countries and financial speculators (investment banks and hedge funds) are taking advantage of the war in Ukraine to push up oil prices and pocket gargantuan profits. They are conniving with each other to disrupt oil supplies, cause artificial shortages, and speculate on oil futures to increase oil prices.

Together with capitalists producing weapons, oil companies and big banks are among the biggest winners in the war in Ukraine, which involved provoking Russia to resort to military aggression, in order to justify the long-standing demand of the US for Europe to stop purchasing natural gas from Russia and cancel contracts for the operation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The skyrocketing prices of fuel products are causing gross hardships on the Filipino people, especially the toiling masses. Prices of food, and other commodities have risen beyond reach of millions of families. The income of transport workers, especially jeepney drivers, are practically being taken away by oil companies. People’s standards of living are declining sharply.

It is urgent that the broad masses of the Filipino people take to the streets in order to amplify their outrage, condemn oil companies for the atrocious oil price increases, and push them to immediately roll back the prices of all petroleum products. Their demand for the repeal of the oil deregulation law, the nationalization of the oil industry, the repeal of excise taxes and reduction of other taxes, must be pushed vigorously.

At the same time, they must raise their demands for jeepney and tricycle fare increases, immediate wage and salary increases, price controls on basic necessities, substantial economic aid, and other urgent demands in order for them to weather the storm of the economic crisis.

They must denounce the Duterte regime for its corruption, military overspending, anomalous infrastructure projects and onerous taxes which have aggravated their social conditions, and take action to prevent its scheme to perpetuate itself in power.

Intensify protests by 10 times against 10th increase in fuel prices