Philippines joins global fuel price protests

June 13, 2008

A Filipino left activist wrote in a June 12 post on the Green Left discussion list: "The fuel-hike protests in the Philippines are now underway. As I write 100 trucks and 500 pedi-cab (tricycle drivers) are marching to Mendiola, Malacanang Palace.

"The protests have been organised by the broad alliance of transport organizations called Alliance of Concerned Transport (ACT NOW!). It's demands are: scrapping of 12% VAT on all petroleum products; moratorium on oil price increase; and junk oil deregulation."

The PDI article reported: "The protest action caused a monstrous traffic jam for about an hour on the streets leading to Malacanang and the University Belt and the areas around them."

Accoring to the article, police stated that "some 80 tractor and trailer trucks and 50 tricycles blocked Bustillos Street in Sampaloc. A phalanx of anti-riot police officers prevented the convoy from reaching the country's seat of power."

Protest organiser Dante Lagman was quoted declaring: "It's the government's job to protect its people. If the government wants to address sincerely the global crisis on oil, it must implement measures that would immediately trickle down to the masses ..."

"Gasoline prices in the Philippines have risen 14 times since the start of the year", according to the PDI, "for a total increase of about 24 percent". Inflation has also surged over recent months.

The Philippines protests came as strikes by truck drivers continued in Spain and Portugal. A June 12 AFP report stated: "Two truck drivers have been killed on picket lines in Spain and Portugal as strikes over soaring fuel prices turned deadly."

According to the AFP, in Spain "Tens of thousands of truckers are on strike or joining the protests to demand government help to offset the higher fuel costs ... Arrivals of fresh meat, fish and fruit in Madrid have come to a near halt. Most of the country's car plants have had to cut or halt production, due to the strike action.

The AFP reports: "French railway workers began their own walkout on Tuesday, increasing Europe's transport chaos."

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