GOV'T, PUBLIC HELD HOSTAGE BY OIL FIRMS
Senator Chiz Escudero said the oil deregulation law is being used by the oil companies as a weapon to keep the public hostage and a shield to protect its interests.
"Their open defiance of the order to audit their books shows how inutile the government has become," the opposition senator said.
"The current turmoil in the global economy has seen governments taking on a more activist, regulatory role. We can do no less," Escudero said.
He pointed out that when Congress passed the law in 1998, the expectation was oil prices would decline because of competition among the oil companies.
"The law has become an artifact, a fossil that we can't even use for fuel. We have to act quickly because when the world's economies recover from today's crisis, oil prices might just soar above US$100 per barrel," he said.
The senator also lambasted the failure of Department of Energy chief Angelo Reyes to submit his promised report on the state of finances of the three major oil firms.
"The best evidence that Secretary Angelo Reyes is sleeping on his job is the pronouncement made by his fellow Cabinet member that gasoline prices are overpriced by P8.00," Escudero said.
He also pointed out that nothing has happened to President Arroyo's order for an audit of the books of oil companies.
"This is the least that government should be doing for the people. Whether helpless or simply inutile, what is clear is that the government is not doing enough to mitigate the impact of oil prices on our people," Escudero said.