PULTANK is an alliance of progressive groups, many of which are based in Southern Tagalog, to oppose the rising prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the Philippines which burdens Filipinos living through day to day with low wages and already high prices.
Among PULTANK’s calls, aside from lowering gas prices, is the immediate release of fuel subsidy, and to also junk the Oil Deregulation Law – the policy behind the government’s hands-off approach when it comes to gas prices.
Some formations that are part of PULTANK are the Southern Tagalog Regional Transport Sector (STARTER-PISTON), Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU), Ligtas Na Balik Eskwela (LNBE) Now! Southern Tagalog, All UP Academic Employees Union Los Baños (AUPAEU-LB), Oh My Gas, Ang Taas Network, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Tagalog (BAYAN-ST).
Ka Elmer Portea, spokesperson of STARTER-PISTON, narrated how transportation workers are suffering due to the rising prices of oil.
“Natutuloy ang pagdurusa ng hanay ng transportasyon. Simula ng mga nagdaang administrasyon, nandyan na ang issue ng phaseout at samu't saring paraan kung paano ginagamit ng pamahalaan ang pagsasakatuparan ng pagph-phaseout ng mga jeepney,” he said. “Marami sa amin ngayon na mga jeepney driver ang hindi na namamasada dahil sa sobrang taas na presyo ng krudo at gasolina.”
(The suffering continues for the transportation sector. Ever since the previous administrations, the phaseout issue is there, along with other ways on how the government implements the phaseout of jeepneys. Many of us jeepney drivers are no longer doing rounds because of the rising prices of crude oil and gasoline.)
He added, “Sa ngayon ay nararanasan namin ang pagliit ng kita ng mga drayber. Hindi po natin naiiwasan ang pagtaas ng pamasahe dahil sa tindi ng pagtaas ng presyo ng produktong petrolyo. Kasunod na naaapektuhan din ang ating mga kababayan na umaasa sa serbisyo ng hanay ng transportasyon.”
(Now we are experiencing the shrinking revenues of [jeepney] drivers. [Because of that], we cannot avoid raising fare rates because of increasing prices of petroleum products. People who rely on the services of the transportation sector are affected as well.)
Jade Corpuz from LNBE Now! Southern Tagalog mentioned how dire the economic situation is now not just for the parents, but also for working students.
“Sa pagsisiyasat ng Ligtas Na Balik Eskwela Alliance, mga pampinansyang problem yung #1 na problema ng mga kabataan estudyante ngayong remote learning setup,” she said. “Nahihirapan na kami makapag-aral at maging magaling na estudyante, dahil kailangan namin ibalanse na maghahanap kami ng trabaho, tutulungan namin ang mga magulang namin, pambili ng gadget, pambayad sa internet, ayun pa, tuloy-tuloy pa ang pagtaas na presyo ng langis at ng mga bilihin. Napakalaking dagdag-gastos sya para sa aming mga estudyante.”
(Based on the observations of the Ligtas Na Balik Eskwela Alliance, finances are the #1 problem of the youth and students’ sector in this remote learning setup. We are having a difficult time studying and trying to be a good student, because we have to balance finding a job, helping our parents out, purchasing gadgets, paying for the internet, and now, the prices of oil and basic goods are on the rise. It’s a huge expense for us students.)
PULTANK also staged a protest that day along Buendia Avenue, near Petron Megaplaza and the Petron gas station right across the street, after BAYAN-ST had a program in front of the Chinese Embassy calling for national sovereignty.
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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