Transport caravan hits price speculators

Posted on April 01, 2011

A PROTEST caravan staged by a militant transport group yesterday ended peacefully near the presidential palace without stranding commuters, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said yesterday.

Members of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) were joined by around 1,000 activists to protest against rising fuel prices allegedly caused by price speculators.

Chief Superintendent Agrimero A. Cruz, Jr., PNP spokesman, said in a text message yesterday that the caravan did not paralyze public transport in Metro Manila.

"No monitored stranded passengers and traffic situations remain normal," he said.

Mr. Cruz said the caravan started from the Quezon Memorial Circle at past 10 a.m. and ended in Mendiola near the gates of Malacañang at about 3:30 p.m.

The expected peaceful protest notwithstanding, Mr. Cruz said 116 service vehicles have been on standby to ferry stranded commuters, Mr. Cruz said.

George F. San Mateo, secretary-general of Piston, said the rally called for the repeal of Republic Act 8479 or the Downstream Oil Deregulation Law of 1998.

He said in a phone interview that the government should consider that the rise in oil prices worldwide is due mainly to speculation in commodity futures.

For his part, Renato T. Reyes, secretary-general of Bayan, added in a statement that "as much as 60% of world oil prices come from sheer price speculation."

"Government should not allow the big oil companies to merely pass on the alleged under-recoveries. Transfer-pricing and the deregulated regime are conditions being exploited by price speculators," he added.

The benchmark Dubai crude was priced at $108.77 per barrel in the contract period between March 1 and 18.

Monitoring from the Department of Energy show gasoline prices range from P51.85 to P57.87 per liter, and diesel from P44.95 to P47.50 per liter.

Average gasoline prices have risen by P6.95 per liter and diesel by P8.10 per liter since the start of the year. -- Noemi M. Gonzales