Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative and labor leader Ariel Ka Ayik Casilao expressed strong opposition on the P2 fare hike being proposed at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) by some transport groups that will make the minimume fare for jeepneys from P8 to P10 for the first-four kilometers. The petitioners based their demand on the incessant oil price hikes, particularly on diesel.
“This is always the consequence of the unimpeded oil price hikes, thus, we seriously hold the government primarily culpable for this proposal that would undoubtedly impact the poor public,” Casilao said in a statement.
The lawmaker earlier blamed the Duterte administration for ignoring the oil price hikes. He also pointed that it has no plans of repealing the Oil Deregulation Law, that empowers foreign monopoly oil firms to jack up prices of petroleum products.
“This is what we have been asserting since last year, that the president should veer away from his neoliberal economic managers as their proposals are detrimental to the people, and now, we hold him accountable,” he said.
From January to August, gas prices hiked a total of P6.60 and rolled backed with P5.95 per liter, resulting to a P0.65 net hike, while diesel hiked P7.20 and rolled back with P6.50, resulting net P0.70 per liter. Adding the increases since August of P1.7 for gas prices, it reached toa net P2.35 per liter, while diesel with P2.20, with a net of P2.90 per liter.
But basing on the Department of Energy Price Watch, year-to-year hike of lowest prices from August 2016 to August 2017, posted P2.25 per liter for gas, and P4.10 per liter for diesel.
Instead of hiking the minimum fare, Casilao supported the proposal of Piston group, that is either ordering the oil firms to give public utility vehicles a P5-discount on diesel products, or suspend or a moratorium on the charging of Value-Added Tax (VAT). VAT is pegged at 12% on petroleum products that is estimated at about P4.
“The irony of oil price hikes, is the government is also a beneficiary as its VAT collection surges,” Casilao said.
In 2011, VAT collection amounted to P44 billion ato P70 billion according to congress. Hence, the government and oil firms are both receivers of the upward trend in oil prices.
Casilao warned that as President Duterte has condemned the people to the neoliberal dictates as crafted by his economic managers, the poor sectors are bound to agonize the same fate under his preceeding administration. Aside from increasing oil prices and proposed fare hike, a P0.85-power rate hike was effected by Meralco, and a P3-water rate hike being pushed by Maynilad.
“It is baffling what change was the president was promising about when his programs and policies were same old formulas of anti-people neoliberal policies generating poverty and misery to the people,” Casilao ended. ###