But militant group not satisfied, vows to pursue transport strike
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Malacañang has ordered concerned agencies to review the Oil Deregulation Law as a move to appease transport groups already crying from the incessant increase in fuel prices.
President Benigno Aquino III seems to be wary of going back to a regulated market, however. In a press conference, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said “the President stressed that the idea behind the law is to espouse competition…He believes there is more room for competition.”
In a phone interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. Vice President for Communications Roberto Kanapi said, “we support that for as long as the Department of Energy will have more power to enforce [the law’s rules].”
He said competition means more players in the field. “DOE should ensure there will be no smuggling, there is level playing field.”
Besides their contentions regarding the law, the transport groups also put forward complaints against "kotong" or bribery. Some 30 members of different transport groups met in a 3-hour dialogue with the President on Wednesday afternoon.
In response, Aquino ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to get all information and if necessary, file complaints against erring cops and traffic enforcers.
“Nangako kami na wala nang ganitong kalakaran,” Valte said.
Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug said, “the President expects that the groups will not go on strike because the dialogues turned out well…They were very constructive.”
Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP) said it will cease from joining any plans for a transport strike after getting its concerns answered, including the single-ticketing system and financing for their engines.
Layug, meanwhile, said the issues on fuel subsidies as well as the alleged over-pricing by oil firms were not discussed.
He said the fuel subsidy program of the government, Pantawid Pasada, is still in place. Layug said the government is ready to implement the second tranche or a “re-load” of the cards given to drivers.
Strike to continue
Unlike their colleagues in FEJODAP, the Pinagkaisahang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operaytor Nationwide (PISTON) is bent on pursuing a transport strike soon.
In an interview with TV Patrol after the Palace meeting, PISTON Secretary-General George San Mateo said “we are disappointed with the meeting.”
He described the meeting with Aquino as a mere “courtesy call…puro ‘noted’ at ‘copy’…pagkatapos nun, magtataas uli ng presyo.”
PISTON specifically wants the government to control the increase in fuel prices and to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law.
He said they will be announcing tomorrow the date of the members’ transport strike.