OFWs protest oil price hikes in light of dwindling dollar

 Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families today joined other sectors led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Kilusang Mayo Uno in the People’s Protest against oil price hikes and overpricing by big oil companies.

According to Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, the unending spate of oil price hikes will take a heavy toll on OFWs and their families especially in light of the dwindling dollar caused by the recent global debt crisis.

He said OFWs have yet to recover from the loss of remittance inflows from conflict-ridden Libya and Syria as well as the domestic workers ban in Saudi, and very little remittance inflows have likewise trickled from disaster-stricken Japan. Remittances are also expected to considerably decrease from top OFW-receiving country Saudi Arabia in anticipation of the full implementation of Saudization policy.

“With the recent global debt crisis, remittance-dependent families are in a very vulnerable and dangerous place. The dollar depreciation combined with the never-ending spate of oil price hikes and the continuous swell in the inflation rate will have an ominous impact on OFWs and their families,” Martinez said.

In a span of six months, oil companies have increased their prices 18 times. Pilipinas Shell recently announced another P0.40 increase in diesel and kerosene and a P0.90 increase in gasoline. Petron immediately followed suit. Oil prices have increased by P5 for this year, resulting in price hikes of other basic commodities such as rice, sugar, canned goods and flour.

According to transport group PISTON, oil companies “overpriced” oil products to as much as P9. “Dahil sa patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis at pababang halaga ng remitans, isusubo na lamang ng pamilya ng OFW ay ninanakaw pa ng mga dambuhalang kumpanya ng langis,” he said.

Martinez said that OFWs send an average of P8,000 per month to their families to cover expenses for rent, food and other utilities. “Sa patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, paano na pagkakasyahin ng mga pamilya ang kakarampot na padala ng mga OFW?”

 He said that the Aquino government could actually do something to stop oil price hikes “if only it had political will and the welfare of its citizens in mind over big business’ profit”. “President Aquino seems to worry more about the profits of big oil companies than our welfare.  Our families have to contend with the shrinking value of our remittances while many of us have to even work harder, to endure even worst conditions in other countries, just so our children can eat and go to school,” said Martinez.

He also questioned lack of government action to look into allegations of overpricing of big oil companies, as well as its refusal to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law. ###