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>What more to sell next to NFA?



Last Monday, the morning radio news flashed that fuel prices
shot up again by fifty centavos. The premium of the commodity already hit past P50 per liter and there is no sign of let up.

Fuel companies, as if on cue, just simultaneously jack up their rates unannounced but when the charges decrease, they don’t follow the same route. The cartel would announce the reduction which takes effect the next day yet. 

The increase, which always takes effect suddenly and unannounced averages fifty centavos per liter; the decrease, well, five to ten cents and it is far from coming.

Consumers are at the receiving end of the perpetual reign of greed by the oil cartel with government, able and willing to play the role of a pimp, legal counsel and agent provocateur for the multi-nationals.

In 1996, the government under Fidel V. Ramos implemented the Oil Deregulation Law, which incidentally had been archived for more than three years due to popular uproar,  to “rationalize” fuel prices (kunu) with the promise that prices would even go down.  

The cartel and its running dogs in government foisted the myth that business should better be left in private hands and government must stay away.

Private business is efficient and free of corruption (kunu). Government being inefficient and prone to corruption would only saddle the growth of the fuel sector and the ones to suffer are consumers. Private business is well, more efficient (kunu pa gid).

If you text your kins or friends in Metro Manila and Cebu and inquire on fuel rates there, you would likely scratch your head. Prices in the two metropolis are the same, five to eight pesos cheaper per liter than in Iloilo. That means,Iloilo’s prices of fuel is infuriatingly higher by five to eight pesos than in those cities.

That myth, one of the underlying principle for the vogue in the late 80s and throughout the 90s, was called privatization”. The animal now, after having gained notoriety, has been renamed “PPP” or private-public partnership.

History proved that privatization, PPP today or whatever it may be called someday, shares the same essential trait of private greed in a raiding binge for more profits, public accountability, welfare or interest being the least and last of its virtues.

The dictator Marcos toppled in February 1986 leaving behind the price of rice at P5 per kilo and premium gasoline at a similar level, if not the same value. In the months before his downfall, the World Bank and IMF egged the dictator to let  loose the prices of fuel but the latter defied them.

The dictator and the Filipino people had a reliable defense then against the onslaught of the foreign oil multinationals – Petron and its sister company the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC).

Petron and PNOC were jewels of the Filipino people, along with PAL, NIDC, NDC, PLDT, MERALCO and MWSS or more popularly called NAWASA, among others.

They are all gone to private hands or control now. The agent provocateurs for privatization led no less by then Pres. Cory Aquino, mother of the current Malacañang occupant, lulled us into sleep. Majority were made to believe that privatization would usher this blighted land into paradise as the aforementioned government assets would earn more and create more prosperity.

Those promises were a dud, reminding us of a similar battle cry of the Japanese Imperial Army in their bloody onslaughts in WWII of unifying the conquered lands into the East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

PAL, NIDC, NDC, PLDT, MERALCO, NAWASA, and what not, were profit-making companies. The final victims of their loss were the Filipino people. The initial victims were the employees and workers, as the new owners’ first move was to institute anti-worker policies, an assault against the working class. The new owners did away with labor standards like security of tenure and minimum wage.

PAL, for instance, treats its workers with disdain. The company to rake more profits has to twist the arms of the crème of its labor force, the pilots who are now up in arms because they have been demoted to contractuals, the reason
for their unrest. PAL pilots are now supplied by labor-only contractors or agencies, similar to the local Romac or St. Joseph, which contract janitorial services.

The Philippine government, through the GSIS, still owns 40 percent of Petron, the rest by different holdings, the biggest of whichthe Saudi-Aramco. The GOP still can throw its weight in its board meetings and regulate the company’s greed, with apologies to the whistleblower in the botched NBN-ZTE deal, in the name of the Filipino people. But the Philippine representatives in the board of Petron are pretty lazy.

It appears the government of P-Noy is not heeding. It vows to install Mar Roxas to the top level bureaucracy after the election ban lapses, the same Mar Roxas cursed by NFA employees in the early 90s for plotting to throw the agency on the auction block and let loose the reins on racketeers behind the rice smugglingsyndicate. 

With NFA privatized, what is there left to sell next?

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