Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Testing Executive Power

Pilipinas Shell and Petron Corporation (newly acquired by San Miguel Corporation) just raised their fuel prices at the time when government agencies are debating on the legality of including oil products under price control; and while Congress mulls over scraping or amending the Oil Deregulation Law.

"Officials of the two firms announced the following price increases effective Tuesday: unleaded premium gasoline by P1.25 per liter, regular gasoline by P0.85 per liter, diesel by P2 per liter, and kerosene by P1.50 per liter. Shell's price increase will take effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, said Roberto Kanapi, vice president for communications. Petron's price adjustment will take effect 6 a.m. Tuesday, said spokesperson Virginia Ruivivar." says an Inquirer report.

This is by far, the most humiliating act done by oil firms against not just Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration but moreso, against the Filipino people. Mrs. Arroyo has asked the inclusion of oil products among those to be regulated. She has tasked Justice secretary Agnes Devenadera to file a legal question which has since been blocked as expected by no less than the Energy secretary Angelo Reyes.

The unpatriotic actions taken by these two giant oil firms during these times of tragedy should not be taken lightly by this government. These actions, though being taken in the name of commerce, are direct acts meant to test and circumvent Executive Power.

This is the second time that Shell did this. Remember that at the height of Typhoon Ondoy, when everybody was agonizing over the loss either of life or property, Shell hiked its oil prices ahead of everybody under the guise of "exercising its right" under the Oil Deregulation Law. It did so at the time when Congress is actually mulling whether to scrap the Deregulation law or not and when public sympathy goes against it. Some views this as a loss of delicadeza by this Dutch-owned oil company.

I may have cross swords many times with this administration, but I cannot deny that these actions being taken against oil firms by this government are truly admirable.

Having said this, I support Mrs. Arroyo in this. I urge the President to exercise her full executive powers and penalize these oil giants by either putting them out of business or censoring her secretaries and enjoin them to support her on this.

Arroyo will leave an excellent legacy if she succeeds in this. She has the full support of the people against Shell and Petron.

Gloria, do not be a lame duck in this.