Last January 23, I received a note from Department of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes regarding our participation in today’s Energy Summit. A few days letter we got a copy of the program for the first day.
Bayan was supposed to give a 5 minute reaction to the inputs of Pilipinas Shell president Ed Chua. This guy is some character. In a recent Senate hearing, he said that lowering oil prices would contribute to global warming. Why? Because people tend to consume more oil if prices are lower. Whaaat?
The ”mamang tsuper” or the ordinary housewife have no intention of doubling their oil consumption when prices go down. Hell, no. All the consumers want is to save some money from gas expenditures so they can buy more food and other requirements.
Ed Chua goes on to say that one solution he’s offering is for poor people to use better light bulbs. Yes, for those of you reeling from high oil prices, try changing your light bulbs to the more energy efficient ones. Duh? That way what you spend for in high gas prices, you can recover from cheaper electricity. That’s not such a bad proposition, if only the person saying it was NOT A PRESIDENT OF AN OIL COMPANY!
I had wanted to tell these things personally to the Shell president, but unfortunately, we would not be attending the summit because of the way it is organized. Below is our statement.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) will not be participating in the scheduled Energy Summit called for by the Department of Energy. We acknowledge the invitation personally extended to our organization by DoE Secretary Angelo Reyes and our inclusion in the Summit program on the first day. However, due to the nature, structure and format of the summit, we respectfully decline the invitation of Sec. Reyes.
The Energy Summit is being funded and directed by big multilateral lending institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank (WB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United States Agency for International Aid. The mere involvement of these organizations as program partners of the DoE is already an indicator of the real thrusts of summit.
These are the same foreign banks that pushed the Oil Deregulation Law during the 90’s. These are the same lending institutions interested in exploiting the Philippines potential sources of alternative and renewable energy.
The theme of the summit, “$100/barrel oil, crisis or opportunity”, intends to take advantage of the current oil crisis so that the Arroyo government can make a sales pitch to big foreign investors who are interested in exploiting our country’s energy sources.
The energy summit is one super roadshow presentation to attract foreign investors in the field of renewable and alternative sources of energy. At stake are P177 billion in potential investments in the renewable energy sector.
The summit aims to create “opportunities” for the big multinational corporations and monopolies in the energy sector as well as the big foreign banks that will finance the projects. Today, the country’s biggest natural gas exploration is jointly controlled by multinationals Shell and Chevron.
The summit aims to create “opportunities” for the Arroyo government, the principal broker of future energy deals. Even before the Summit, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo already boasted in her trip to Davos, Switzerland of the investments opportunities to be created by the summit.
Bayan has taken the position that the country’s energy sources must not be auctioned off to the highest foreign bidder. These energy sources need to be developed to serve national interest to protect the domestic economy from surging oil prices. Surrendering these energy sources to foreign business interests will strategically weaken the energy security of the country and make even renewable energy less affordable.
The summit will not create “opportunities” for poor consumers. The summit does not appear to be interested or serious in addressing the main issue of high prices. It views the phenomenon of rising fuel prices as a mere given that no government intervention can correct or mitigate.
The main issues being pushed by people’s organizations and consumer groups include the lifting of the VAT on petroleum products, the review and repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law, and the nationalization of the energy sector, including whatever potential renewable energy sources the Philippines has.
The main sponsors or partners of the Summit have gone on record in opposing the lifting of the VAT on petroleum products. This is because the VAT revenues from oil enable the Philippine government to pay its loans to the ADB, WB and JICA. The same revenues enable the Philippine government to continue borrowing from the same lending institutions.
The main partners of the summit are also against any idea of repealing the Oil Deregulation Law or nationalizing the oil and energy industry.
The format of the Summit is designed to drown calls for direct government intervention to mitigate high oil prices by shifting the attention of public on the issue of investments in renewable and alternative energy.
While we support the need to develop alternative and renewable sources of energy, we believe this should be done in the context of nationalization and not foreign monopoly control.
Bayan is intent on carrying on the fight to lower oil prices through short-term and long-term means. We will continue to work with legislators, the academe, business groups, consumer groups and other stake holders interested in pro-people reforms. ###