The removal of the oil rebate scheme amidst spiraling oil prices shows not only the callousness of the oil profiteers, but also the dismal failure of the Oil Deregulation Law as it relegated government to a position where it has to practically beg the oil cartels for mercy.
In response to escalating oil prices, the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), together with its affiliate, the National Transportworkers’ Union (NTU), reiterates its demand that the discount scheme for public transportation system be retained even after the transport fare hikes take effect.
As far as the transport workers are concerned, the fare adjustment recently granted by the LTFRB covers the oil price increases since the fare rates were adjusted two years ago until January this year, when transport workers started demanding for fare hikes.
But retaining the oil rebate scheme is not enough. There is also a need to make the scheme effective by extending the discount not only to diesel but also to gasoline that some public transport vehicles, such as FX taxis and tricycles, use; and, to implement the scheme nationwide and in all outlets.
It should be noted that the P1 oil rebate, pushed by the GMA administration during the campaign period to head off transport fare hikes, was not implemented nationwide. Instead, only two to three outlets in some cities actually gave discounts. In some municipalities, none. Furthermore, only diesel oil was given the one-peso discount even as other transport utilities like, tricycles and FX-taxis are using gasoline.
While we see the oil rebate as a workable response to rising oil prices in the global market, there is still a need to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law as it has failed to break up the market control of the Big 3: Shell, Caltex and Petron. The failure of the Oil Deregulation Law proves that the proper response to an oligopolistic market is not free market but a more effective regulatory system.