Today, 17,000 members of the Federation of Iloilo Jeepney Owners and Driver Associations (FIJODA-NCTU) launched a crippling province-wide transport strike to press for the removal of the 12% VAT on petroleum products and fro the scrapping of the Oil Deregulation Law.
“Government’s inaction in the face of skyrocketing oil prices forced us to take this drastic measure,” declared Proceso “Ka Porcing” Pareño, President of FIJODA-NCTU.
The FIJODA is echoing the demands of its mother organization, the National Confederation of Transportworkers’ Unions (NCTU). As the global crude oil prices breached the US$ 120 mark, the NCTU called on government to implement a package of reforms: remove the 12% VAT on petroleum products, pass the P125 wage increase and scrap the Oil Deregulation Law (RA 8479).
Removing the 12% VAT would lower diesel fuel prices from P4.78 – P5.28. “This would ease the burden not only of transport workers but more so of the general public,” Ka Porcing said. “It would also go a long way in easing the rising cost of food and other basic necessities,” he added.
Ka Porcing also said that they are not inclined to ask for fare hikes unless workers receive a wage increase. That is why FIJODA-NCTU is supporting the passage of the P125 legislated increase for minimum wage earners.
Ka Porcing also explained that for years transport workers have been asking government to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law. “A decade of living under RA 8479 is enough proof that the law is a complete failure,” Ka Porcing said. “Rather than benefit of the working class, it has only allowed the oil companies to further enrich themselves,” he added.
Oil companies have jacked up pump prices by P1 per liter this weekend, and are threatening to further increase their prices on a weekly basis.
While admitting that the scrapping of RA 8479 would require Congressional action, Ka Porcing said that Malacañang can certainly speed things up by certifying the repeal of RA 8479.
“This is just a warning shot against government,” Ka Porcing said. “Should government remain deaf and blind to the worsening condition of the transport workers and the riding public, we will launch more crippling strikes,” he added.
FIJODA is a newly established federation of 20 transport organizations in Iloilo. Its members ply all the routes outside of Iloilo City.